By Nick DiNisco
Date: Saturday, March 6
Location: The UFC Apex, Las Vegas, NV
Time: Preliminary Fights begin at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN; Main Card begins at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV
This Saturday night delivers a massive start to a thrilling month of fights. UFC 259 will feature three title fights on an exciting card, headlined by the middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (20-0), who will jump up to light heavyweight to fight current light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz (27-8). The two-division belt holder Amanda Nunes (20-4) will be defending her featherweight title in the co-main event against the challenger, Megan Anderson (11-4). In the third title fight of this action-packed card, Aljamain Sterling (19-3) will be prepared to fight current bantamweight champion Petr Yan (15-1) in a scheduled five round fight.
Blachowicz vs. Adesanya
The final fight of the night will present a tall task for both fighters. Jan Blachowicz will try to defend his title for the first time since earning the belt against Dominick Reyes in September 2020. Meanwhile, Israel Adesanya will try to join elite company, as he attempts to grab a second belt while simultaneously holding another belt in a different division.
Blachowicz’s journey to the top has been one that has displayed great perseverance. After beginning his UFC career with a 2-4 record, there were concerns that the UFC would release the Polish fighter. Blachowicz showed his relentlessness by winning the majority of his next handful of fights in convincing fashion. Recently, the 38-year-old has won four straight fights, with three of those four wins by stoppage. He began his quest for the belt last February, where he knocked out popular fighter Corey Anderson and then, because of the vacancy of the belt that was held by Jon Jones, made the most of the moment against Reyes in UFC 253 with a second round TKO (punches).
The impressive skill of Israel Adesanya is well-known and he demonstrated that in April 2019, when he completed his ascent to the top of the middleweight division by defeating Kelvin Gastelum to hold the interim belt. In October, Adesanya fought Rober Whittaker for the Middleweight championship. “The Last Stylebender” scored a second round KO and his rise to the top of the division was accomplished. The legend of Adesanya continued to grow in March of last year in a title defense against division standout, Yoel Romero. Adesanya retained his belt in a somewhat unentertaining championship fight and went on to walk all over Paulo Costa in his most recent fight in September. Now he has his sights set on a second title as he ventures up to 205 lbs to take on Blachowicz.
Nunes vs. Anderson
In the co-main event, we will see Amanda Nunes defend her belt against Megan Anderson. Nunes, who is considered to be the best women’s pound-for-pound fighter, has won her last 11 fights. Most of those fights were extremely one-sided as Nunes has proven to be on a different than her opponents. Nunes fought just once in 2020, successfully retaining her belt against a young Felicia Spencer by decision. “The Lioness” is a perfect 7-0 in championship fights.
Megan Anderson made her way to the top in the Invicta FC (another women’s MMA league). This fight will be at featherweight (145 lbs.) and the six-foot tall challenger will be looking to pull off arguably the biggest upset in UFC history. This is a pretty lopsided fight but the first couple minutes of the fight will be Anderson’s best chance for a knockout, as her length and height could create problems for Nunes.
Sterling vs. Yan
The third fight of the main card and the first title fight of the night will be in the bantamweight division with number one challenger Aljamain Sterling facing off against the champion, Petr Yan.
Petr Yan is a perfect 7-0 in the UFC and has methodically moved his way up the division before claiming the vacant title at UFC 251. Yan defeated Jose Aldo in the fifth round via TKO (punches). The aggressive Russian has the ability to stand in the pocket and throw strikes back and forth while also maintaining great wrestling and grappling skills. This will be his first title defense against Sterling in a fight that was pushed back from December.
Sterling has looked remarkable in his last five fights, defeating a variety of ranked opponents. He made a clear statement that he is the number one contender after defeating Cory Sandhagen back in June via first round submission. Sterling’s greatest strength is his grappling and wrestling but the athletic fighter has shown that he can also stand with the best as well. There has been some banter between the two over the years that should translate to this highly anticipated championship fight.
Israel Adesanya vs. Jan Blachowicz
Adesanya is a sizable favorite in this bout probably because of his resume and his great fight IQ. This is an interesting fight to bet on, specifically because it’s between two fighters from different weight classes. It will be interesting to see what each fighter looks like when they are in the octagon standing across from each other. Blachowicz has serious power and has the ability to knockdown anyone with his fists but I believe Israel’s smart fighting will ultimately get him the victory in this championship fight as I see either a late round knockout or a win by decision.
Fight Odds (via DraftKings):
Israel Adesanya -230
Jan Blachowicz +185
Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson
This fight could end up looking bad for the UFC as I believe this won’t be close at all. I think the conclusion is that there is no one at featherweight that is on Nunes’ level. Anderson will probably come out aggressive and it won’t take long for Amanda to figure out how to slip past that aggressiveness. I see a first round knockout in this one.
Amanda Nunes -1000
Megan Anderson +650
Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan
This title fight could be the most entertaining fight of the night as I see this as a very even fight. Both fighters are very fast and athletic and have the ability to fight on the ground or standing up. I believe if Sterling can get the fight to the ground early in the fight then he has a good chance of submitting Yan. The longer the fight goes, the better it is for Yan. This is basically a pick em so I’ll take my chances with Sterling.
Aljamain Sterling -110
Petr Yan -110