UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Odds, Predictions and Pre-Weigh-In Hype

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2021

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Odds, Predictions and Pre-Weigh-In Hype

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    It doesn't get much better than the UFC 259 fight card.

    With three championship fights featuring four champions set for Saturday, the UFC has put together a showstopper.

    Headlining the evening is a light heavyweight title fight that will give Israel Adesanya a chance to join the rare-double champion club. The middleweight champion is going up to 205 pounds to fight recently crowned champion Jan Blachowicz.

    Amanda Nunes already holds the distinction of being the reigning champion in two divisions. She will put her featherweight championship on the line against Megan Anderson.

    Saturday's championship action gets started when Petr Yan looks to make his first title defense against Aljamain Sterling in the loaded bantamweight division. With plenty of contenders champing at the bit to get their shot at the title, the pressure is on Yan to impress.

    Here's a look at the whole card and the latest on what the fighters are saying heading into weigh-in day.   

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Main Card (ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET)

    • Jan Blachowicz (c) (+185; $100 bet wins $185) vs. Israel Adesanya (-230)—light heavyweight championship
    • Amanda Nunes (c) (-1250) vs. Megan Anderson (+750)—women's featherweight championship
    • Petr Yan (c) (-110) vs. Aljamain Sterling (-110)—bantamweight championship
    • Islam Makhachev (-360) vs. Drew Dober (+275)
    • Thiago Santos (+138) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (-167)


    Prelims (ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET)

    • Dominick Cruz (+110) vs. Casey Kenney (-137)
    • Song Yadong (-141) vs. Kyler Phillips (+115)
    • Joseph Benavidez (+103) vs. Askar Askarov (-134)
    • Rogerio Bontorin (+105) vs. Kai Kara-France (-137)


    Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass at 6 p.m. ET)

    • Tim Elliott (+102) vs. Jordan Espinosa (-124)
    • Kennedy Nzechukwu (+180) vs. Carlos Ulberg (-230)
    • Sean Brady (-230) vs. Jake Matthews (+180)
    • Livinha Souza (+172)  vs. Amanda Lemos (-215)
    • Uros Medic (-177) vs. Aalon Cruz (+144)
    • Mario Bautista (-225) vs. Trevin Jones (+180)

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Adesanya Not Concerned with Putting On Weight

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The last time we saw Adesanya in the cage, he was picking apart hulking middleweight Paulo Costa. The fearsome striker appeared to give up plenty of size to the Brazilian, but it didn't much matter because his quickness and striking acumen were simply too much.

    Adesanya is hoping history repeats itself as he moves up in weight class. In Blachowicz, he'll see a fighter who figures to have a tremendous size advantage.

    The Last Stylebender is willing to spot him that advantage, though. Adesanya has made it clear that packing on extra weight to make this move was not a concern. It shouldn't be surprising if Adesanya doesn't weigh in close to the 205-pound limit.

    "Same flex, baby," Adesanya Marc Raimondi of ESPN in regard to keeping his middleweight routine. "Same thing. It's just silly to me when people go and decide to add more muscles to their frame that they're not used to over the years working this game."

    Adesanya told ESPN it's likely he will weigh around 195 pounds Saturday night. Blachowicz is likely to rehydrate and be well over 205 pounds when the fight starts.

    Whether that size difference is enough to make a difference remains to be seen. Blachowicz earned the title on the back of a four-fight win streak that includes a second-round TKO of Dominick Reyes.

    As good as Blachowicz is, Adesanya's speed, athleticism and timing should be enough to keep things at a distance and create a fight the middleweight champion can win.

    Prediction: Adesanya via third-round TKO.

Nunes Eyes History with Another Title Defense

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Amanda Nunes is the most dominant fighter in women's MMA history. At this point, that statement is indisputable. Nearly every woman who has made a name for herself in this sport has lost to The Lioness.

    From Cris Cyborg to Holly Holm to Ronda Rousey, Nunes has beat them all. She has captured and defended both the 135-pound and 145-pound titles, and few of those fights could even be considered close.

    So as Nunes gears up to fight Megan Anderson, the question isn't how Nunes' skills match up with Anderson's. Rather, it is what can possibly be motivating Nunes?

    That's where chasing history comes in.

    "I reached my other goals, so what is the next challenge?" Nunes told E. Spencer Kyte of UFC.com. "[The next challenge is to] beat the record for the most title defenses. I want to do it better than the guys."

    That's a lofty goal. Former flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson holds the record for most consecutive title defenses with 11. Counting the title defenses for both of her championships, the Lioness has six.

    It's a long way to go, but Nunes has shown the ability to challenge the record. She's won fights with her wrestling, she's earned early knockouts and she's dominated over the course of a full five rounds.

    Nunes may have struggled with cardio earlier in her career but appears to have gotten over those issues. She's in pick-until-she-loses territory at this point. The 6'0" Anderson has a fairly big size advantage (the champion is 5'8"), but she will need more than that to pull off the upset.

    Nunes via decision.

Sterling Out to Expose Yan as 'Paper Champion'

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    Mel Evans/Associated Press

    Aljamain Sterling has a problem with the title of "champion" as it pertains to Petr Yan. As in, the Funk Master doesn't believe Yan's championship has been legitimized at this point.

    Sterling has a beef. When Henry Cejudo walked away from the sport in May, the UFC had to come up with a fight to crown a new champion. Sterling made sense as one of the fighters who would be in that fight. He was riding a four-fight win streak, including wins over Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera.

    Instead, the UFC set up a matchup between Yan and Jose Aldo. The former was expected to win, but the latter had just one fight in the bantamweight division and lost.

    Sterling, meanwhile, drew Cory Sandhagen and pulled off an upset win in under two minutes.

    "For me, it's to prove he's been the paper champ this entire time and the real champ was the guy who fought Cory Sandhagen and finished the fight in under two minutes," Sterling said, explaining his pre-fight mindset to Damon Martin of MMA Fighting.

    When the cage door closes Saturday Sterling is going to get his chance to prove his legitimacy of a title contender and this should be the best matchup of the three title fights. Yan and Sterling have complementary strengths, and the interplay between the two should be competitive.

    Yan is the better striker, but Sterling is the better grappler. Yet neither is weak in the other area.

    This fight should bring legitimacy to the titleholder and bring some direction to a division that still needs it after Cejudo's retirement.

    Prediction: Yan via decision.


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