Jan Blachowicz’s behind-the-scenes documentary for UFC 253 reveals one of most unique – and unsettling – pre-fight rituals ever described by a fighter.
The UFC light heavyweight said he regularly returns to a forest in his hometown of Warsaw, Poland, to touch the rope used by a man he found who’d hanged himself. According to Blachowicz, the rope is a good luck charm that’s had “a 90 percent success rate since I started doing this.”
Blachowicz doesn’t say when he found the man, whom he encountered while walking his dog and initially mistook for alive. He said when he called authorities, a police officer on the scene asked if he took part of the rope used to hang the man.
“‘When you find a hanged man, you take his rope for luck,” Blachowicz remembers of the officer’s reaction. “‘That’s what people believed in the old days.’ I checked the internet, and sure enough, that is exactly what people thought and believed in. If you don’t believe me, check for yourself.”
Sure enough, there’s some documentation in support of Blachowicz’s claim.
“In the 1880s, it was apparently not unusual for Parisian medical students to sell bits of the rope that were still attached around the necks of suicides brought into the hospitals,” according to the paper “Executing Magic in the Modern Era: Criminal Bodies and the Gallows in Popular Medicine,” which was published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. “One report tells of a piece given to a chemist’s assistant in Amiens, who then went on to win one hundred thousand francs in a lottery.”
“There was huge demand in Paris for hanging rope as a lucky charm, it reported, noting that French gamblers and the superstitious had to rely on suicides for pieces,” the paper adds.
Blachowicz wasn’t entirely comfortable taking a piece of the rope. So he compromised, returning to the forest before every fight to touch it.
The former KSW champion did, indeed, turn his career around after a rough stretch in the octagon. He went 1-4 in his first five appearances, losing to standouts such as Jimi Manuwa and Alexander Gustafsson. But he subsequently went on a streak, winning seven of eight and knocking out Corey Anderson to put himself in contention for a title shot.
Could that have been the rope? Blachowicz thinks so. Of course, there’s another side to the power of the lucky charm, which he indicates could be supernatural. He said the video, released on Wednesday, was his second attempt at filming after audio issues interfered. He said he’s mentioned the rope to UFC crews during behind-the-scenes features, but the promotion has never used the footage.
“Maybe the UFC also had the same problem with the sound, I need to ask them about that,” he said. “That’s some ‘Paranormal Activity’ stuff right there.”
And if it isn’t obvious, Blachowicz has kept with his ritual for the biggest fight of his career.