This weekend, UFC 259 takes place with an absolutely stacked card from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV when three title bouts will be featured on the event. Some of the under card was shuffled in recent weeks, but assuming the three key bouts stay intact, this broadcast could be one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year for the company.
At the top of the card, the current Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya will move up in weight to challenge Jan Blachowicz for the 205 LBS belt, with the opportunity to claim two belts simultaneously in two divisions. While this feat was accomplished a few times in recent years with names like Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, and Henry Cejudo, I think the argument could be made that both McGregor and Cejudo claimed two belts at a time when at least one of their respective divisions lacked proper depth. That same argument could be made for the current middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. Still, Adesanya could solidify himself as possibly the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport today if he secures two championships this weekend.
In truth, the 205 LBS division, once the most competitive division in the organization when the genre surged in popularity during the original run of the Ultimate Fighter seasons, has been unsteady the past several years. Jon “Bones” Jones’ ability to be as careless outside of the cage as he is stellar inside of the octagon saw him stripped of the belt on a few occasions. Eventually, Cormier won the title and had successful defenses before he vacated the belt when he won the heavyweight championship. After an interim fight, Jones captured the title again, but a razor close decision win against Dominick Reyes prompted “Bones” to vacated the title to move to heavyweight instead of a Reyes rematch.
Last September, Blachowicz beat the previously mentioned Reyes via TKO to win the championship. Basically, the division has been all over the place and the narrative of the belt didn’t allow for any consistency for challengers to move up the ranks for a title shot. Instead, UFC brass was tasked with trying to find challengers for the 205 LBS belt. Throwing the Middleweight champion in the mix almost confirms the lack of structure in the light heavyweight division, but as mentioned, it gives Adesanya a chance to really put a spotlight on himself.
As far as the actual fight, it makes sense that the undefeated Adesanya is the favorite, but I doubt this will be an easy fight for the young star. Keep in mind, he is moving up in weight to challenge Blachowicz so the key to the contest might be the clinch for the light heavyweight champion to use his size advantage to make the fight more difficult for Adesanya. If Blachowicz stays on the outside or tries to make it a kickboxing match, it will give Adesanya the chance to pick his shots and land enough punches to win the fight. If I had to guess, I’d say that Adesanya does win the fight, but that’s more of a guess than anything because it’s very possible that Blachowicz uses his power to get a victory. The middleweight champion is rightfully going into the bout with a lot of praise because his victories have been impressive, but Blachowicz has a chance to derail the hype.
Amanda Nunes will defend her Women’s Featherweight championship against Megan Anderson. Nunes, who is currently on an 11-fight win streak, is an 11-to-1 favorite to beat Anderson, who has a two-fight win streak against lesser known competition. No disrespect intended to Anderson, but those odds are probably accurate and while a shocking upset is possible, I have to pick Nunes to get the win. The 32-year-old Brazilian is in the prime of her career and the run she had in the past few years will possibly obtain legendary status when she finally hangs up the gloves. Nunes is the best female fighter in the sport and this will probably be more of an exhibition of her skills than anything.
The Bantamweight belt will be on the line when Petr Yan defends against Aljamain Sterling in a virtual “pick ’em” as far as the odds for the bout. It makes sense considering that they are evenly-matched and have similar records. Yan has only one blemish on his record and won the 135 LBS title when he defeated Jose Aldo last July. Sterling brings a five-fight win streak into the octagon, but doesn’t have a signature win in his career yet so this is an opportunity for him to establish himself. I’d guess this will be a razor-close decision and a toss up as to who gets the victory. I could be wrong, but this might be the start of trilogy series between this two talented athletes. As far as a winner, I will be Yan to get the decision on the score card.
From an overall perspective, this could be a big night for the UFC, promotion-wise because Adesanya, the champion in his prime, has a chance to cement himself as a top draw in the organization, which would be extremely beneficial to UFC management, especially because the drawing power of mega star, Conor McGregor might be diminished if he loses his next fight. Adesanya has drawn some comparisons to Anderson Silva because of the similar style, and while there will be only one Anderson Silva, another dynamic champion would be useful for the UFC marketing machine to promote on pay-per-view.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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