With the UFC heading to what feels like every major country in the world in 2014, it was only a matter of time before some of the highly touted fighters overseas started joining the Zuffa roster. From Michael Bisping in England to Vitor Belfort in Brazil, the UFC loves to throw hometown fighters in big spots whenever the promotion heads to a new market, and it’s not likely to stop as the UFC continues to expand. However, with most of the promotion’s current talent hailing from MMA hotbeds like the United States and Brazil, the company is going to have to look towards adding local talent in order to fill the void.

With Poland seemingly in the UFC’s plans this year, it wasn’t all that surprising to see one of the country’s most talented fighters, Jan Blachowicz, get snatched up by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva last week. Blachowicz has been on the radar of savvy MMA fans for a few years now. As a longtime member of KSW, the premier MMA stomping grounds in Poland, Blachowicz has been making his case for a chance to compete in the Octagon for a while.

The Polish prospect shook off a rough start to his MMA career and ripped off a streak of 14 wins in his last 15 fights. He avenged his only loss in that stretch less than a year later. He has lost just one fight since 2007, and over the last few years he’s beaten a handful of former UFC veterans, ranging from Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou to Houston Alexander.

Based on his resume alone, Blachowicz was, at the very least, the best light heavyweight in Europe not on a UFC roster prior to last month. The UFC picked a perfect time to add another talented 205-pounder to the roster. The division is getting extremely old extremely fast. An influx of new talent is exactly what the division needs, and the promotion has done a solid job in adding a couple of good fighters in the last few weeks with the signings of Blachowicz and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. However, those signings won’t mean anything if the fighters don’t produce, and Blachowicz, especially, will be fighting on a different level of competition when he steps foot in the Octagon than what he’s used to seeing.

Even though he’s taken down a handful of UFC vets at this point, Blachowicz beat all of those fighters long after their UFC careers were over. Beating a few name opponents may have put his name on the UFC’s radar, but those fighters were all no longer inside the Octagon because they weren’t considered UFC-caliber fighters anymore. To make matters worse, Blachowicz’s ability to finish his opponent seems to vanish against the higher-caliber fighters—he’s gone to the judges in his last four fights, all of which were against UFC veterans. That’s a big red flag, and one that Blachowicz will have to get rid of quickly in order to be taken seriously in the UFC.

Although Blachowicz has clearly outclassed his competition in Poland, the biggest question surrounding the Warsaw native will concern his wrestling skills at the highest level. KSW hasn’t exactly been throwing Olympic-caliber wrestlers at Blachowicz over the past five years. He’s proven to be competent in both knocking out fighters and scoring submissions, but he hasn’t faced a high-quality grinder that can completely shut down his offense. Throw in the lackluster takedown defense that Blachowicz shows on occasion, and there’s a lot to worry about against the likes of Ryan Bader and Phil Davis in the UFC.

Even against non-wrestlers, Blachowicz is going to need to improve a bit in the other areas of his game to compete against the best in the world. He’s a solid technical striker, but the lack of combinations he throws on the feet makes him far more predictable than he needs to be. He’s also not exactly a nimble fighter, and his tendency to plant his feet on the mat will make him an easy target for a quick takedown, regardless of the talent level of the wrestler. And although his grappling game is strong, he gets a bit complacent on the mat and could be overwhelmed by some of the more aggressive grapplers in the division.

All of this seems like it’s leading to a prediction of Blachowicz underperforming once he hits the next level, but there’s definitely some hope for the Polish prospect to make some noise inside the Octagon. Unless he gets thrown to the wolves in his UFC debut, Blachowicz is going to have at least a fight or two against lower-tier guys to get his feet wet. That gives him time to fine tune the parts of his game that are worrisome at this point.

It’s doubtful that the former KSW champion, at 31 years old, is going to develop top-notch takedown defense or start throwing combinations like Anderson Silva, but if he gets even slightly better with his wrestling and footwork, then he could become a top-10 UFC light heavyweight. Blachowicz may not be a guy that screams championship potential, but he can definitely make an impact in the UFC.

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.