Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakić are no longer headlining UFC Columbus.
MMA Kultura on Instagram reported that the former UFC light heavyweight kingpin was forced to withdraw from the upcoming event after suffering an undisclosed injury during training. The report was then confirmed by Ariel Helwani, who revealed the plan is to reschedule the fight for another date.
The Polish star has since addressed his injury, explaining that it is around the neck area and needs to be fixed immediately.
Unfortunately I will not fight March 26th at #UFCColumbus. I have an injury in my spine around the neck area. That makes it impossible to train with heavy weights. I need to fix that now.
I hope we will meet with @rakic_ufc in the octagon in the first half of this year.
— Jan Blachowicz (@JanBlachowicz) January 28, 2022
“Unfortunately I will not fight March 26th at [UFC Columbus],” wrote Blachowicz on Twitter. “I have an injury in my spine around the neck area. That makes it impossible to train with heavy weights. I need to fix that now. I hope we will meet with Rakić in the octagon in the first half of this year.”
Blachowicz was returning to the Octagon after losing his championship to Glover Teixeira at UFC 267, where he was submitted via second-round rear-naked choke. The 38-year-old was previously on a five-fight win streak that included finishes of Luke Rockhold, Corey Anderson and Dominick Reyes, the latter of which was a title-winning effort. He successfully defended his belt against Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 this past March.
Rakić went from relative newcomer to ranked contender within two years. ‘Rocket’ began his tenure with four straight wins before being given a step up in competition against one-time title challenger Volkan Oezdemir at UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs. The Korean Zombie in 2019. He lost a razor-thin split decision to ‘No Time’, but rebounded with two decision wins over Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos at UFC Vegas 8 and UFC 259, respectively. Following those performances, Rakić believed he was due for a title shot. However, that will have to wait until his next appearance.
There is no word yet on what fight is now expected to serve as the new headliner for UFC Columbus. Among the options is a No. 1 contender between flyweights Kai Kara-France and Askar Askarov.
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