Israel Adesanya has the chance to become one of the only UFC fighters to ever simultaneously hold belts in two different weight classes, he just has to get past the biggest, strongest, opponent he has ever faced, first.
One of the best cards of the year will be headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between Jan Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya in the main event of UFC 259 on Saturday. Blachowicz, the current light heavyweight champion, is putting his belt on the line against current middleweight champion, Adesanya, who is moving up a weight class to take this super-fight.
Adesanya is literally facing the biggest opponent of his career, while Blachowicz has never been up against someone as fast and agile as the middleweight champ. It’s speed versus size in this epic showdown that promises to shake up the power dynamic across the UFC.
Jan Blachowicz UFC 259 Odds
Jan Blachowicz (27-8) has run through opponents over the last four years, only losing once in his last nine fights. Coming into this fight, Blachowicz is riding a four-fight win streak with all but one of those fights ending in a first or second round KO/TKO win. Blachowicz fought twice in 2020. In February he picked up a first round KO over Corey Anderson, which earned him Performance of the Night. Blachowicz was last in the octagon at UFC 253 in September. With the vacant light heavyweight belt up for grabs, Blachowicz finished Dominick Reyes by TKO, less than 30 seconds into the second round for his second straight Performance of the Night.
Most people will justifiably focus on the power Blachowicz brings to this fight, but what’s really compelling, is his grappling ability. Blachowicz is up against an undefeated knockout artist who will be the quickest opponent the Polish power striker has ever seen, so he needs to do something different. Blackowicz averages 1.16 takedowns per 15 minutes and 52 per cent takedown accuracy. He rarely puts himself out of position and with nine of his wins coming by submission, a fight on the ground is likely his best path to victory. Blachowicz’s wrestling ability combined with his size advantage could be the difference between his first successful title defence and being a one-and-done champ.
Israel Adesanya UFC 259 Odds
Israel Adesanya’s undefeated record (20-0) speaks for itself. Adesanya is pure gold when it comes to an entertainment standpoint, as all but two of his eight UFC fights have won either Fight of the Night or Performance of the Night. He keeps a steady schedule, taking three fights per year on average, and he managed to defend his middleweight belt twice in 2020, despite all the schedule interruptions from COVID-19. Adesanya won the middleweight belt by brutally knocking out Robert Whittaker in the second round at UFC 243 in 2019. His first title defence was a five-round unanimous decision win over Yoel Romero at UFC 248, last March. We last saw Adesanya in September, in one of the best fights of 2020. Adesanya handed Paulo Costa his first professional loss by knocking him out in the second round at UFC 253, which was the first time since 2009 two undefeated fighters met in a title fight in any of the male divisions.
“The Last Stylebender” will need to rely on his speed in this fight. Adesanya is one of the best strikers in the UFC and he has 15 career KO’s, but that might not be the smart strategy against a bigger opponent who is used to taking some abuse in his fights. His biggest advantage in this fight is his ability to quickly move in and out of range at a level his opponent will not have seen before. Adesanya’s technical ability both offensively and defensively will make the difference in this fight. He’ll likely feel out his opponent for a bit before he starts getting comfortable. If Adesanya can make smart, technical strikes and get in and out of the pocket quickly, he should be able to rack up big points. Adesanya has the chance to become one of the only UFC fighters to ever simultaneously hold belts in two different weight classes, he just has to get past the biggest, strongest, opponent he has ever faced, first.
Blachowicz vs. Adesanya UFC 259 Prediction
Champ versus champ, light heavyweight versus middleweight, size versus speed, take whatever storyline you want with this super-fight. It’s fairly unprecedented to see two current champions of this calibre go toe-to-toe in the UFC, which should make this a great candidate for Fight of the Year. Both fighters are smart, so look for them to use the first round to feel each other out. Blachowicz’s best shot for a win is to get Adesanya on the ground and go for the submission. Adesanya’s speed will likely be the biggest factor on Saturday, however. Look for Adesanya to pick and choose his shots and eventually takedown Blachowicz by unanimous decision.