MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC 259, a five-round light UFC heavyweight title bout between champion Jan Blachowicz and challenger Israel Adesanya. The event takes place on Saturday, March 6 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Israel Adesanya (-230)
Adesanya (20-0) is the UFC middleweight champion and he will be moving up to 205lbs in this bout as he looks to win a second UFC title. The 31-year-old New Zealander has been a revelation in the Octagon since making his promotional debut back in 2018. Since then, Adesanya has racked up a perfect 9-0 record, with wins over the likes of Robert Whittaker, Paulo Costa, Anderson Silva, Yoel Romero, Kelvin Gastelum, and Derek Brunson. Being the tallest and longest fighter at 185lbs, Adesanya was able to dominate the competition in a way we have never seen before. Blessed with a long reach, Adesanya is able to keep his opponents at the end of his strikes and pick them apart from the outside before going for the kill. He is one of the biggest superstars in the sport and if he defeats Blachowicz this weekend at UFC 259 he’ll explode in popularity. One thing to note is that Adesanya will weigh 193lbs in this fight, compared to 220lbs for Blachowicz. While he might have the speed advantage, it will be interesting to see if that extra weight comes into play in this fight.
Jan Blachowicz (+190)
Blachowicz (27-8) is the UFC light heavyweight champion and this is his first title defense. The 38-year-old Poland native is 10-5 overall in the Octagon since joining the UFC in 2014. He has notable wins over the likes of Dominick Reyes, Corey Anderson, Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza, Jarred Cannonier, and Jimi Manuwa, to name a few. Blachowicz also has several losses in the UFC including a KO defeat to Thiago Santos two years ago, but since then he’s won four straight fights. Looking back at Blachowicz’s UFC career, it’s been impressive to see him turn it around. At one point, he was just 2-4 in the UFC, meaning he’s 8-1 since that terrible loss to Patrick Cummins in 2017. A powerful striker on the feet, Blachowicz also has a dangerous ground game, making him truly one of the most dangerous and well-rounded light heavyweights in the game today.
Fight Breakdown: This is such a great fight, and a difficult one to call, in my opinion. Adesanya is an amazing fighter, one of the best we’ve ever seen in MMA, and he could very well be in the GOAT discussion when it’s all said and done. But moving up in weight to take on a big, powerful man in the prime of his career like Blachowicz is the most difficult challenge of his UFC career to date, and I’m not convinced he wins this fight. Adesanya is a great striker, no doubt about it, but when you ask yourself who the more complete mixed martial artist is, it’s Blachowicz. If the fight stays on the feet, there is definitely a chance Adesanya can just keep him at his range and win on points, though he would still have to be careful of Blachowicz’s power. The difference in this matchup, though, is in the grappling. With a 25lbs weight advantage, Blachowicz could choose to implement his wrestling and submissions and make this a gritty grappling-based affair. Everyone talks about Blachowicz’s power, but he has a really underrated ground game, too. If Adesanya wins this fight, it obviously wouldn’t surprise me. But I believe Blachowicz has more paths to victory in this fight, and I can definitely see him pulling this upset off. Whether it be a finish or by decision, I have Blachowicz winning this fight.