UFC 259 Fight Card: PPV Schedule, Odds, Predictions for Błachowicz vs. Adesanya

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2021

UFC 259 Fight Card: PPV Schedule, Odds, Predictions for Błachowicz vs. Adesanya

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    Michael Zarrilli/Associated Press

    Israel Adesanya will attempt to break into the record books in a light heavyweight title fight against Jan Blachowicz to close out UFC 259 on Saturday from the UFC's Apex Facility in Las Vegas. 

    Adesanya is already the middleweight champion, so his foray into the light heavyweight division gives him the opportunity to join an elite club of fighters who have simultaneously held two different championships in the organization. 

    Among those fighters is Amanda Nunes, who will be defending her featherweight title in the co-main event against Megan Anderson. The two-division champion has established herself as the best fighter in women's MMA

    The championship fights don't just stop there, though. The bantamweight title will also be on the line as new champion Petr Yan attempts to add some legitimacy to his reign with a win over burgeoning contender Aljamain Sterling. 

    It's a great card that should pique the interest of everyone in the MMA community. Here's a last-minute look at the entire offering with odds and the biggest questions surrounding each of the title fights. 

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) (+195; $100 bet wins $185) vs. Israel Adesanya (-245)—light heavyweight championship
    • Amanda Nunes (c) (-910) vs. Megan Anderson (+580)—women's featherweight championship
    • Petr Yan (c) (-134) vs. Aljamain Sterling (+110)—bantamweight championship
    • Islam Makhachev (-455) vs. Drew Dober (+340)
    • Thiago Santos (+137) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (-167)

                     

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

    • Dominick Cruz (+105) vs. Casey Kenney (-127)
    • Song Yadong (-165) vs. Kyler Phillips (+135)
    • Joseph Benavidez (+112) vs. Askar Askarov (-136)
    • Rogerio Bontorin (+115) vs. Kai Kara-France (-141)

                      

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

    • Tim Elliott (-125) vs. Jordan Espinosa (+103)
    • Kennedy Nzechukwu (+200) vs. Carlos Ulberg (-250)
    • Sean Brady (-225) vs. Jake Matthews (+180)
    • Livinha Souza (+190)  vs. Amanda Lemos (-240)
    • Uros Medic (-182) vs. Aalon Cruz (+150)
    • Mario Bautista (-240) vs. Trevin Jones (+190)

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Can Adesanya Beat Light Heavyweights?

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Israel Adesanya's move to the light heavyweight division is really intriguing for multiple reasons. The first might be that it sets up a superfight with Jon Jones down the line, but whether Adesanya's size disadvantage matters is a close second. 

    Adesanya is a natural middleweight. Unlike many fighters who move up or down a division, he is clearly moving toward a division he doesn't have the traditional frame for. 

    Even when others have moved up a division in the past, they still weigh in pretty close to the limit. That wasn't the case for Adesanya, who weighed in at 200.5 pounds to make the title fight official before posing with a box of pizza. 

    Blachowicz isn't exceptionally large for a light heavyweight, but he is a legitimate 205er. This matchup should give us a good idea of how well Adesanya manages the size difference. 

    Adesanya has the tools to cope, though. He is a lightning-quick striker with excellent timing and acumen when it comes to exposing holes in his opponent's game. 

    That should come in handy as Blachowicz has a tendency to get sloppy. Many times it works out for him as he gets the knockout, but Adesanya is an Anderson Silva-level counter-striker. Unless Blachowicz is able to utilize his grappling to completely nullify his opponent, this fight should end up looking like most of Adesanya's fights at 185 pounds. 

    Prediction: Adesanya via third-round TKO

Can Anderson Give Nunes Any Problems?

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    Jim Young/Associated Press

    Amanda Nunes is dominance personified. Those who write about the sport are starting to run out of words for what The Lioness has done. If there's a big name in the sport, she's beaten them. In some cases, she's beaten them twice. 

    Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg are all on her resume, and she's won fights in different ways. Whether it's a first-round knockout, a grappling clinic or a five-round kickboxing affair, Nunes can and will win in a multitude of ways. 

    So you'll have to excuse anyone who might not see many threats coming from Megan Anderson. Unlike many of Nunes' opponents in the past, Anderson has no championship history. The Australian is 3-2 in the UFC with back-to-back wins over Zarah Fairn Dos Santos and Norma Dumont Viana. 

    That doesn't tell us a whole lot about how she matches up with Nunes, but losses to Holly Holm and Felicia Spencer do. Nunes dispatched of both of them already, and neither fight was particularly close. 

    Anderson is a massive opponent at 6'0", but we are beyond sheer size standing out as too big an advantage against Nunes. Her power and athleticism are likely too much to overcome, and Nunes will control this fight from pillar to post. 

    Prediction: Nunes via decision

Is Petr Yan a Legitimate Champion?

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    This is basically the question that Aljamain Sterling himself has posed.

    Sterling's frustration with Yan's status as champion stems from an unjust decision to put Jose Aldo in a title fight with an 0-1 record at bantamweight. Once Henry Cejudo vacated his title, the UFC was left to make its own championship belt and went with the star power of Aldo over more deserving contenders in the division. 

    Now, Sterling gets his crack at the belt, and Yan gets a shot at legitimizing himself as a champion. It's a win-win for both fighters, and the organization should be rewarded with an excellent fight. 

    The matchups within this fight are excellent. Yan is a ruthless striker with good finishing instincts. Sterling's striking has always been a work in progress, but it has come a long way. Yan is a good-not-great grappler, while Sterling is an accomplished submission artist. 

    Both fighters excel in the clinch, but even there they have different agendas. Yan excels at beating up opponents in close and taking advantage of breaks. Sterling will look to create scrambles where he can latch onto a choke. 

    This fight will take place all over the cage and should be a fun one. Still, Yan's striking stands out as the biggest advantage that will dictate the fight. 

    Prediction: Yan via decision

                   

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