Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Jan Blachowicz usually saves confrontations for the cage rather than social media but he felt compelled to fire back at UFC middleweight Sean Strickland over comments he made about the Russian invasion into the Ukraine.
On the same day the invasion started in February, Strickland took to Twitter to say that Ukraine should “just bend the knee and become Russian,” which elicited a fiery response from Blachowicz.
“It is easy to give away someone else’s independence,” Blachowicz wrote. “The history of the Eastern European region is full of struggle and suffering. Ukraine – as a country and as a people – has endured much. Their resistance is understandable and admirable. Freedom!”
Would you? It is easy to give away someone else’s independence… The history of the Eastern European region is full of struggle and suffering. Ukraine – as a country and as a people – has endured much. Their resistance is understandable and admirable. Freedom!
— Jan Blachowicz (@JanBlachowicz) February 28, 2022
Blachowicz — who hails from Poland which shares a border with Ukraine — ended up in a back-and-forth war of words with Strickland while attempting to educate his fellow UFC fighter after his original comment sparked controversy.
As fighting continues after nearly three months, Blachowicz reflected on his response to Strickland while admitting it’s not normally something he’d take time to do.
“I would not say anything but he fights in the same company as me,” Blachowicz told MMA Fighting. “We fight for the UFC so I think I have to answer to him because he doesn’t have any idea what’s happening.
“We see these people everyday, we help these people from the Ukraine who escape from the war, from what’s happening there.”
Poland has served as a safe haven for refugees fleeing Ukraine amid the fighting with around 2.6 million people coming into the country since the invasion first started. That accounts for 60 percent of the total exodus since Russian forces first stormed the borders in February.
Seeing the suffering of the Ukrainian people first hand made Blachowicz feel like he had some responsibility to answer Strickland even if he couldn’t quite say everything he wanted.
“My English is too weak to say everything I would like to say,” Blachowicz said. “Terrible things are happening over there. The Russians kill civilian children, mothers with child, crazy things happen over there. I hope someone will stop this madness soon.
“When I see what he is saying, it’s just stupid and crazy. I don’t know what to say right now to him.”
Strickland went onto invoke Poland’s role in World War II, which had Blachowicz sending him several messages but rather than engage in a social media blitz, he hopes that the often outspoken 185-pound contender actually does some research before speaking next time.
“First of all, he needs to learn a little bit more about history,” Blachowicz said. “History about what’s happened here in Poland when it was World War II. What happened in Poland. After that he can say something more
“But his knowledge is level zero about this and he tried to say something smart. It’s better for him if he will say nothing.”
As he prepares for his return to action in the main event at UFC Vegas 54 on Saturday, Blachowicz has done his best to keep his full focus on the fight as well as his family but it’s impossible to just ignore what’s happening — especially with it happening so close to home.
“It’s weird times,” Blachowicz said. “We try to live normally but you feel pressure everywhere. You see these people from the Ukraine and you try to help them in every part of life. We try to do our best.
“Nobody knows how it’s going to finish, this whole situation. We try to live normally but you feel pressure everywhere. It’s a weird situation. A weird feeling.”