(Editor note: Story was updated at 12:05 p.m. ET on Dec. 7 with Blachowicz’s confirmation of his UFC 297 withdrawal and statement on the situation)
Rakic (14-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) is scheduled to run things back with former light heavyweight champion Blachowicz (29-10-1 MMA, 12-7-1 UFC) on Jan. 20 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, but Rakic claimed on Thursday in an X post that Blachowicz has withdrawn.
You can never lose a rematch when you pull out for the second time. Legendary Bullshit.
— Aleksandar Rakic (@rakic_ufc) December 7, 2023
“You can never lose a rematch when you pull out for the second time. Legendary Bullsh*t. Let’s see if the Samurai has the balls to step up on Jan 20th. @Mickmaynard2 @danawhite.”
“The Samurai” is in reference to former champion Jiri Prochazka (29-4-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC), whom Rakic has been eager to fight and traded barbs with in the past. Prochazka is coming off a knockout loss to Alex Pereira in their vacant title fight at UFC 295 in November.
Rakic hasn’t competed since blowing out his knee in a TKO loss to Blachowicz in May 2022. Prior to that, he scored back-to-back wins over Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos.
UPDATE: Blachowicz subsequently confirmed his injury withdrawal from the event in a statement on social media (via Instagram):
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It’s hard to express how I feel because it’s a mixture of anger and sadness. Withdrawing from a fight due to injury is one of the most difficult decisions a fighter can make. However, sometimes there is no other option, especially when you are competing in the TOP 5 and want to put on a show at the highest possible level. Instead of fighting for the best shape, I fight with the pain during every training session. I did everything I could, but my shoulders need surgery. In this state, continuing preparations and entering the Octagon would be irresponsible and stupid.
I always say that when I go into a fight, I must be 100% ready. I owe it to myself, my coaches, my opponent and, above all, the fans.
Thank you in advance for your support! I am waiting for the date of surgery, after which rehabilitation and return to training will follow.
I promise I will come back stronger!
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 297.