It was like déjà vu when UFC announced that Jimi Manuwa would be taking on Jan Blachowicz in a rematch at UFC Fight Night 127 in London last week.
Last year, Manuwa’s bout announcement against Corey Anderson was greeted with similar criticism. In the end, the card delivered in a big way with the hometown hero scoring a knockout win in the main event to the delight of all in attendance at The 02.
Responding to the criticism of his rematch with Blachowicz this time around, Manuwa insisted that he is not to blame for what some naysayers see as a lukewarm matchup for the London card.
“There has been a lot of criticism, but it’s no fault of mine,” Manuwa told MMAFighting.com.
“Everyone knows that I like to fight the best. I’ve never been scared and I’ve always looked to test myself. I fought some of the best fighters in the world when I wasn’t even ranked.
“Ever since I’ve been in the top 10, the top five have all been dodging and playing the safe game. No one wants to test themselves anymore. They’re all trying to be smart and pick their spots. It’s frustrating.”
Ahead of last year’s London card, Manuwa claimed that Glover Teixeira and Mauricio Rua had ducked him. Again, this time around, Manuwa tweeted that the Brazilian duo turned down fights with him.
Glover declined. Shogun declined.
— JIMI MANUWA (@POSTERBOYJM) December 21, 2017
Teixeira responded to Manuwa’s tweet following his latest win over Misha Cirkunov, insisting that the Brit didn’t deserve a fight with him given that he is coming off a loss.
According to “Posterboy”, Teixeira’s excuse holds no weight given that he is not next in line for the title, with Alexander Gustafsson likely to take on the winner of the upcoming title fight between Daniel Cormier and Volkan Oezdemir.
“It’s true what he’s saying: I did lose my last fight. But, at the end of the day he’s got to understand that if Alex is ready, he’s not going to be getting a title shot. He won’t be fighting anybody. I offered him the fight,” explained Manuwa.
“After DC fights Volkan, the winner is going to be fighting Alex Gustafsson. Alex just knocked out Glover Teixeira in his last fight so he’s next in line.
“The right choice for Glover to cement his place is a fight with me. He’s No. 3 and I’m No. 4. It’s the right fight to make. Surely he can see that. I really don’t know where his head is at.
“The only thing that makes sense is that he doesn’t want to fight me or he doesn’t want to risk the loss. This is the second time he has turned me down for a fight so I really can’t put my finger on it, but he’s either scared or he’s playing it safe.
“That excuse that I’m coming off a loss holds no weight. He’s not even next in line for the title shot. He’s cherry picking fights. The last time I offered to fight him at UFC 208. He turned it down and ended up fighting Jared Cannonier. It is what it is. I’ve got to keep fighting and I continue to aim for the belt.”
Manuwa went on to say that criticism of the UFC London card should be directed at the former light heavyweight title contender:
“The criticism should be aimed at him (Teixeira). At the end of the day, the UFC or me can’t make him fight. If you offer someone a fight and they say no there is no clause in the contract that makes them sign to fight.
“It’s all down to Teixeira. I wanted to fight anybody that I could in the top five or top ten. I asked UFC for Teixiera, I asked for Shogun (Mauricio Rua) – I wanted a big name. I asked for Lil Nog (Antonio Rogerio Nogueira). These are the fights that should be happening, but they aren’t.
“There’s no warrior code in this game. Teixeira is a great fighter. He shouldn’t be turning down a fight with me. If we fight, he would be the favorite. He’s good standing up and he’s great on the floor. I don’t know why he keeps turning down fights with me.”
Manuwa also responded to a lot of fans that feel another win over Blachowicz does little to bolster his stock at the moment.
“Jan is the only person I’ve ever been the distance with. I feel I did dominate him in that fight, and I felt he was running a lot. At the same time, I feel Jan has got a lot better and I’ve got a lot better,” he said.
“I think it makes for an interesting fight. He looked really good in his last fight and that’s the main reason why I accepted it.
“I’d like to ask the public a question: what would they do if they were in my situation? You’re coming off a loss, you’re trying to get a big fight but no one will accept it and you want to fight in your hometown? I’ve got to fight.”