Jan Blachowicz had to navigate the first round of his fight with Aleksandar Rakic with a serious handicap.
Although Blachowicz won the UFC Vegas 54 main event this past Saturday by third-round TKO when Rakic succumbed to a knee injury, he had to deal with an injury of his own when a punch from Rakic damaged his left eye early in the bout.
Blachowicz, who’s holding steady at No. 4 at 205 pounds in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings, revealed on The MMA Hour that until the opening round was done, he had difficulty seeing out of that eye.
“That was one of the first punches in the first round,” Blachowicz said on Wednesday. [It bothered me] very much. I don’t see nothing. The first round, I was blind in [my left eye] because blood was everywhere in my eye, so I just kept [wiping] the blood from the eye. In second round, I was just afraid that he would destroy a little bit more. But I was focused and ready for everything.”
Despite the setback, the former UFC light heavyweight champion won the first round on all three judges’ cards before Rakic battled back in Round 2 to even the score. It’s unclear how much the injury continued to affect Blachowicz as the fight progressed, but he was concerned whether he’d even be allowed to continue after the first round.
“I was a little bit worried, but I don’t think about [the injury],” Blachowicz said. “I just tried to hide this eye to not have more punches on this place. Also, between the first and second round I was a little bit worried because when I see the face of the doctor, his face was a little bit not good for me, and I said, ‘Uh oh.’ But the second doctor come and say, ‘OK, he’s OK, he can fight.’
“I said, ‘I’m OK, let’s go.’ But I was worried because his face didn’t look nice.”
Blachowicz underwent surgery for his injured eye on Monday and said outside of some pain and a “weird feeling” he can once again see normally. He expects recovery to take about six weeks, during which he will return to Poland and have tubes inserted into his eye for the procedure removed.
The UFC Vegas 54 main event marked Blachowicz’s first appearance since losing the light heavyweight title to Glover Teixeira at UFC 267 last October. He was grateful to be back in the octagon and at no point did he think that the eye injury would stop him from finishing the fight.
“Come on, it’s the fight, you have to [continue],” Blachowicz said. “A long time ago, one of my coaches said, ‘If nobody hit you so hard that you go down, then the punch doesn’t exist.’ So I will be in the fight until the end of it, the whole 25 minutes if I have to.”
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