Jan Blachowicz denied Israel Adesanya's quest to become the fifth two-division champion with a unanimous-decision win over The Last Stylebender in the main event of UFC 259 from the Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Adesanya's venture into the light heavyweight division was intriguing from the start. While both fighters were tentative in the first round, Adesanya's speed advantage stood out. However, as the fight wore on, it was Blachowicz's strength and grappling that took over.
Any time Adesanya was able to land something of consequence, Blachowicz was able to tie up his opponent in the clinch. Once the fight went to the championship rounds, Blachowicz turned to his wrestling full-time to secure the victory.
Adesanya had no answer for the takedowns that the champion landed. He was trapped on the bottom as Blachowicz put the finishing touches on an impressive victory that saw him remain light heavyweight champion.
With Jon Jones gone, the win goes a long way in establishing Blachowicz as the true champion of the division. A bout with Glover Teixeira is likely next as the Brazilian has put together an impressive winning streak deserving of a title shot.
The light heavyweight championship wasn't the only one on the line Saturday night, though. Both Amanda Nunes and Petr Yan attempted to defend their belts with mixed results. Here's a look at how all the action went down.
- Jan Blachowicz def. Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45 x2)
- Amanda Nunes def. Megan Anderson via submission (armbar) (Round 1, 2:03)
- Aljamain Sterling def. Petr Yan via disqualification (Round 4, 4:29)
- Islam Makhachev def. Drew Dober via submission (arm-triangle) (Round 3, 1:37)
- Aleksandar Rakic def. Thiago Santos via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
- Dominick Cruz def. Casey Kenney via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Kyler Phillips def. Song Yadong via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
- Askar Askarov def. Joseph Benavidez via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
- Kai Kara-France def. Rogerio Bontorin via TKO (Round 1, 4:55)
- Tim Elliott def. Jordan Espinosa via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 30-25)
- Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Carlos Ulberg via TKO (Round 2, 3:19)
- Sean Brady def. Jake Matthews via submission (arm-triangle ) (Round 3, 3:28)
- Amanda Lemos def. Livia Renata Souza via TKO (Round 1, 3:39)
- Uros Medic def. Aalon Cruz via TKO (Round 1, 1:40)
- Trevin Jones def. Mario Bautista via TKO (Round 2, 0:40)
Amanda Nunes def. Megan Anderson
Amanda Nunes added another featherweight title defense to her resume, and she made it look as easy as a daily chore.
The Lioness simply dominated from the opening bell. From the moment she landed her first punch, the power difference between her and the towering Megan Anderson was clear. It didn't take long for that power to put Anderson down.
From there, it was Nunes' jiu-jitsu that made a surprise appearance. After an initial choke attempt was denied, the champion simply switched her focus to locking in a triangle armbar and forced the tap in no time.
Nunes continues to be the greatest fighter in women's MMA history. Her ability to clean out both the bantamweight and featherweight divisions gives her the most legendary resume in the sport, and she just continues to make it look easy.
Dana White and Co. are going to have their work cut out for them to find a marketable fight for the Brazilian.
Aljamain Sterling def. Petr Yan
The bantamweight division is even less clear than it was heading into Saturday night, as Aljamain Sterling is now the bantamweight champion by disqualification.
Sterling got off to a great start in the first round. He pressed the action and even landed an early flying knee. However, a well-timed right hand from Petr Yan floored the Funk Master and set up an interesting round to score.
The second round was mostly Sterling again as he controlled Yan in the clinch and looked for takedowns. But by the third round, Yan had taken over and was landing with regularity.
Unfortunately, chaos ensued in the fourth. Yan landed a vicious knee to a clearly grounded Sterling, who was unable to continue. The result was a title change because of a disqualification.
Now, the division that has gone through quite a few champions will have to stand still until Sterling can fight Yan again. Given the damage he took from the illegal knee, that could be a while.
Islam Makhachev def. Drew Dober
Comparisons to Khabib Nurmagomedov might be overused, but Islam Makhachev did his best to earn it against Drew Dober. With The Eagle in his corner, he completely dismantled Dober from the opening bell.
Makhachev's impressive grappling proved to be as varied as it was effective. He took Dober down multiple times in multiple ways and threatened with multiple submission attempts.
Dober—who is a solid lightweight in his own right—had no answers for Makhachev's unrelenting pressure.
By the third round, his defenses were completely worn down. Makhachev forced the tap with an arm-triangle choke to cap off a dominant performance.
The 29-year-old's general inactivity has kept him from climbing the rankings, but he certainly looked good in this one. The lightweight division has yet another serious player to worry about.
Aleksandar Rakic def. Thiago Santos
The UFC 259 main card started with a whimper, not a bang, as Aleksandar Rakic won a unanimous decision over Thiago Santos in the light heavyweight bout.
Both Rakic and Santos have proved to be dangerous fighters in the past, but neither was really willing to commit too much in this one. Santos' usual aggression in the striking department was conspicuously missing, while Rakic appeared hesitant to get Marreta to the ground.
Santos was able to earn a round on two of the judges' scorecards, but ultimately Rakic outworked him. The Austrian actually landed 13 fewer significant strikes but was able to control the action in the clinch at times.
The light heavyweight division is reaching uncharted waters in the post-Jon Jones era, so it seems as though it's more open than usual. This wasn't the best performance from Rakic, but it's enough for him to survive and advance.
He should be in line for another highly ranked opponent and will be in the title picture soon if he continues to win.