Three title fights, including a superfight between champions, headline Saturday’s UFC 259 event from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The night’s main event sees middleweight champion Israel Adesanya travel up to the light heavyweight division to challenge 205-pound champion Jan Blachowicz for the belt.
It took Blachowicz 15 UFC fights to become champion, and after starting out his UFC tenure 2-4, he knew he had to right the ship or else he might be cut from the promotion. Blachowicz would go on to win eight of his next nine fights, seven of which he was the betting underdog. It has been an improbable run for Blachowicz that has allowed him to gain a unique perspective of how tough it is to become champion.
The final portion of the event will be televised on ESPN+ pay-per-view.. There will be three title fights on the five-fight main card, including a champion vs. champion clash in the main event. UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz puts his belt on the line against UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
Makhachev (-450) has picked up unanimous-decision wins in his previous two outings, including a win over Davi Ramos at UFC 242 Sept. 7, 2019. He was to return in Nov. 2020 but was forced to pull out of the main event on that fight night card due to a staph infection. Between the rust of a long layoff, and the fact he has gone the distance in four of his past six events, he is a risky play.
The reason why many are calling him Khabib 2.0 is the fact that his striking is already at such a high level. It’s hard to find a weakness in Makhachev’s game which is why many are saying that he will be the lightweight champion one day.
Sterling has developed into a very well rounded fighter. Although his strengths undoubtedly lie in his ground game, he has improved his stand-up to the point that he was able to beat two elite strikers, Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera, without landing a single takedown. Sterling could have success at range by utilizing his reach and will be able to throw a lot of kicks considering Yan will not offer much of a takedown threat. However, his advantage clearly lies on the ground. “Funkmaster” combines great top-pressure with some slick submissions, meaning Yan will be best served to avoid any sort of grappling exchanges.
Drew Dober is trying to stop all the hype around Makhachev. Dober is a sizable underdog, but many are underestimating just how good he is. Since 2017, he’s only lost one fight and that was against top ten contender, Beneil Dariush.
Bautista does return with some momentum behind him, as his last two wins over Jin Soo Son and Miles Johns earned him Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night bonuses, respectively. He was scheduled to take on Davey Grant last March, but the COVID-19 pandemic scratched that bout. Then came the same injury that struck his MMA Lab teammate Jared Cannonier.