UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions and More

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2021

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions and More

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    Andy Brownbill/Associated Press

    UFC 259 is a fight fan's dream. With three titles on the line and a chance for two double-champions to emerge, there's a lot on the line.

    The headliner features Israel Adesanya in a quest to become another fighter to achieve the status of champion in two weight classes simultaneously. He will try to add Jan Blachowicz's light heavyweight belt to his middleweight championship.

    The co-main event sees Amanda Nunes looking to defend one of her two belts. The towering Megan Anderson will challenge for her featherweight championship.

    Perhaps the best matchup of the three is the bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling, though. Sterling presents an interesting challenge to the newly crowned Yan in a division that is looking for direction in the post-Henry Cejudo era.

    It's a fun trio to anchor the main card of a top-to-bottom lineup of fun fights. Here's the latest look at the card and some predictions for the biggest fights of the night.

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) (-1000) vs. Megan Anderson (+650)—women's featherweight championship
    • Petr Yan (c) (-115) vs. Aljamain Sterling (-106)—bantamweight championship
    • Islam Makhachev (-360) vs. Drew Dober (+275)
    • Thiago Santos (+120) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (-157)

                       

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

    • Dominick Cruz (+110) vs. Casey Kenney (-137)
    • Song Yadong (-152) vs. Kyler Phillips (+125)
    • Joseph Benavidez (+110) vs. Askar Askarov (-137)
    • Rogerio Bontorin (+110) vs. Kai Kara-France (-136)

                             

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

    • Tim Elliott (+103) vs. Jordan Espinosa (-125)
    • Kennedy Nzechukwu (+200) vs. Carlos Ulberg (-250)
    • Sean Brady (-215) vs. Jake Matthews (+170)
    • Livinha Souza (+172)  vs. Amanda Lemos (-215)
    • Uros Medic (-177) vs. Aalon Cruz (+144)
    • Mario Bautista (-240) vs. Trevin Jones (+190)

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Adesanya Too Quick and Precise for Blachowicz

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The UFC is picking the perfect time for Adesanya to move up in weight and try to capture the light heavyweight crown. Ideally, it's a move that would set up a blockbuster between the middleweight champion and Jon Jones.

    Unfortunately, Jones has left the light heavyweight division for now as he attempts to become a heavyweight. That has left his former decision in a state of flux, and Blachowicz is a beneficiary of that.

    The light heavyweight champion is a perfectly fine 205er. The four-fight win streak that brought him the title has been impressive, and his second-round knockout win over Dominick Reyes showed his dangerous power.

    But this matchup is perfectly suited for Adesanya. Blachowicz is a lot of things, but a tremendous athlete isn't one of them. He's a plodding striker who occasionally blitzes, but it's more out of a need to create offense when things aren't going his way.

    That's a bad recipe against someone who is as quick and as technically skilled as Adesanya. The Last Stylebender is an elite striker and counter-striker who can finds holes in his opponent's game as the fight goes on.

    Given enough time, Adesanya can frustrate the light heavyweight champion and take his crown with a well-placed counter that starts the end of the fight.

    Prediction: Adesanya via third-round TKO.

Nunes Dominates, but Doesn't Finish, Anderson

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    Leo Correa/Associated Press

    As the odds would indicate, there isn't a ton of intrigue about who will win this fight. The intrigue more lies in how Nunes will add another victim to her growing list.

    The Lioness is the champion in two divisions for a reason. At this point, the UFC is struggling to come up with opponents who provide interesting challenges. The only fighter who has come close to that is Valentina Shevchenko, and Nunes has beaten her twice (though not since 2017).

    The result is a matchup like this: a contest in a division that doesn't even have rankings because it's so thin against a fighter in Anderson whose main advantage over Nunes is that she's much bigger. The 6-footer will have a four-inch height advantage over the 5'8" Nunes.

    The champion is athletic enough to negate an advantage like that, and she hits harder than anyone in the division. Ultimately, it's her well-rounded game that makes her a near guarantee to win. Anderson is not a strong grappler and Nunes could decide she wants to take the fight there, and she will at least win the round.

    Nunes isn't generally the kind of fighter who just takes the easiest path to victory, though. She will want to test her striking against Anderson, which should result in more fun for fans. The Australian has never been knocked out though, so it may become a fight that is defined by her toughness and Nunes' skill.

    Prediction: Nunes via decision.

Yan Outclasses Sterling in Fight of the Night

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    Much like the Nunes fight, the odds tell the story of this matchup. It's the closest on the card, as both men have proved worthy of being at the top of the bantamweight division.

    Yan's resume might be thin, but the way he has won his fights makes him stand out. He's a skilled, technical striker with a ruthless streak who takes advantage of everything he sees.

    By contrast, Sterling is an opportunistic grappler whose striking has slowly developed into an asset over the course of his career. He is coming off a win against a prodigious striker in Cory Sandhagen.

    The fight gets interesting in the clinch. Both fighters are comfortable there but have different goals. Yan is great at controlling the clinch and creating striking opportunities. Sterling is great at creating scramble opportunities, getting underhooks and setting up submissions.

    This is a fascinating fight all over the place. Yan is great at drawing out shots from opponents that he can counter. Aljo's counter-punching has slowly gotten better.

    Everywhere you look, the fighters' strengths and weaknesses play off of one another.

    Yan's striking advantage is easier to utilize than what Sterling can do on the ground. Every round starts on the feet, and that's to the champion's advantage. Expect this to be a barn-burner that makes Yan justify himself as champion.

    Prediction: Yan via decision.

                                 

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