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UFC Vegas 54 Main Event Preview: Blachowicz vs. Rakic

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The final act of your MMA weekend takes place this Saturday night as the UFC returns to action for its first of two Fight Night cards this month at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, UFC Vegas 54.

Inside the United States, the entirety of this UFC Fight Night will be seen live on both ESPN2 and ESPN+, beginning at 7:30 pm ET/ 4:30 pm PT with the undercard, followed by the main card and the UFC Vegas 54 main event at 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT.

No. 1 and No. 3 Contenders Meet in Light Heavyweight Showcase in UFC Vegas 54 Main Event

All told, barring any postponements between now and Saturday, UFC Vegas 54 will feature an 11-fight card, highlighted by a light heavyweight showdown between two of the top three contenders in the division in the UFC Vegas 54 main event.

No. 1 contender Jan Blachowicz (28-9 MMA, 11-6 UFC) will do battle with No. 3 contender Aleksandar Rakic (14-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) in a five-round fight at five minutes per round to close the evening’s proceedings in Las Vegas on Saturday.

UFC Vegas 54 Main Event Fighter Comparison

Heading into the UFC Vegas 54 main event this Saturday evening, Aleksandar Rakic stands as the taller competitor at 6-foot-4, compared to Jan Blachowicz’ 6-foot-2 frame.

While both men stand level in reach (78 inches apiece), it’s the leg reach category where they gain some separation, as Rakic owns a two-inch advantage (46 inches to 44 inches.)

UFC Vegas 54 Main Event a Makegood of Postponed Fight from March

Initially, Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic were scheduled to fight one another on the evening of March 26 during UFC Columbus in Nationwide Arena during the main event, but a Blachowicz neck injury forced the postponement of the March 26 pairing.

Subsequent to the cancellation, the two were rebooked to fight this Saturday in the UFC Vegas 54 main event.

Jan Blachowicz Looks To Recover From Title Loss in UFC Vegas 54 Main Event

Jan Blachowicz enters the UFC Vegas 54 main event on Saturday night having posted a 4-1 record in his last five fights, losing the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship to Glover Teixeira in October during the UFC 266 main event.

After the defeat, the former champ gave no excuses for his performance in the Octagon that night.

“I think my performance stayed in the hotel room, you know?”, Blachowicz said. “I wasn’t a champion today. He was. He is.”

Blachowicz said that night that he would take some time to think over what went wrong in the fight.

“For sure, something was bad,” he said. “It wasn’t me. I don’t want to explain myself, he beat me. Everybody saw that, so it is what it is, but it’s not over. I’m not a quitter. I will not go anywhere. I will come back here for sure.”

Blachowicz has had the better part of six months to think everything over, so can he get back to the win column in the UFC Vegas 54 main event and gain an opportunity to try and win the light heavyweight title back?

A bigger question:

Could a victory in the UFC Vegas 54 main event lead the 39-year-old Blachowicz to what may potentially be his last bid for the title?

Aleksandar Rakic Prepared to Fight Blachowicz in UFC Vegas 54 Main Event After Year-Plus Layoff

In the other corner, Aleksandar Rakic comes into the UFC Vegas 54 main event sporting a 4-1 record of his own during his last five fights and is currently on a two-fight winning streak.

Most recently, he scored a unanimous decision against Thiago Santos in UFC 259 in March of 2021, making Saturday’s main event his first appearance in over 14 months.

Rakic recently discussed the postponement with James Lynch.

“Right after Jan canceled the fight, there were questions if he would come back fast or not, how bad is the injury? Is there any possibility for a replacement?”, Rakic began. “The UFC didn’t come with any replacement, so obviously, Jan told them ‘I’m going to be ready in a couple of weeks, it’s not a serious injury,’ and then, two, three weeks later, after he said he’s injured, they canceled the fight. They rebooked the fight already in May. I’m so happy that the fight is happening right now, and to fight against a former champion, Jan Blachowicz, I can’t wait.”

Aleksandar Rakic also noted in the interview with Lynch that the news of the postponement of the original Blachowicz fight in Columbus came before he even had an opportunity to begin his training camp, but he’s been in training ever since the Santos win last year.

The million-dollar question ahead of the UFC Vegas 54 main event will be one of just how ready he is to take on Blachowicz this weekend.

Analysis, Film Study, & Prediction

Stylistically, the UFC Vegas 54 main event looks to favor Jan Blachowicz, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Aleksandar Rakic’s brown belt in BJJ.

Both of these men, however, are also known for their stand-up game, as Blachowicz is a former world champion in Muay-Thai, and Rakic competed as a kickboxer for six years before turning to MMA.

Jan Blachowicz Can End the Fight Quickly in UFC Vegas 54 Main Event

One aspect of Jan Blachowicz’ fight game that’s evident on film is his ability to end the fight quickly, as he did a little more than two years ago versus Corey Anderson.

During the first round of a scheduled five, Anderson momentarily put Blachowicz off-balance by throwing feints before finding his rhythm with a left hook, with Anderson mixing his attack up by throwing a leg kick.

Both men stalked one another to try and move in for the kill shot, with Blachowicz landing a nasty right-handed punch to put Anderson out right away for the victory.

All it will take Blachowicz to win the UFC Vegas 54 main event on Saturday night is as little as one punch, so don’t blink.

Aleksandar Rakic’s Kicks Are Just As Vicious

In the other corner, Aleksandar Rakic’s kicking game might bring an even quicker end to the UFC Vegas 54 main event than Jan Blachowicz’ punches can.

Although Rakic’s 2019 fight against Jimi Manuwa was slated for three rounds, he needed less than one minute to finish the job, connecting with a right-handed punch and following it up with a vicious left head kick to his opponent’s jaw to put Manuwa out with an audible thud on the cage mat.

If Rakic is able to land just one head kick on the button, the UFC Vegas 54 main event will be over before you can sit down with your drink.

Final Thoughts

As chronicled in the film study, the UFC Vegas 54 main event could very well be over almost as quickly as it begins, so one final piece of advice:

Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

Prediction: Jan Blachowicz by First-Round Knockout.

Featured image credit to Ultimate Fighting Championship

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