Two champions go head-to-head at UFC 259 when middleweight champion Israel Adesanya challenges light-heavyweight title-holder Jan Blachowicz – can ‘The Last Stylebender’ become the next fighter to hold UFC titles in two different weight classes at the same time, or will Blachowicz retain his crown and become the first man to put a blemish on Adesanya’s record? Read on for our free Jan Blachowicz v Israel Adesanya betting tips and predictions for UFC 259 on March 6.
Conor McGregor once said “precision beats power and timing beats speed”, and that quote is something that sprung to mind immediately when considering the outcome of this huge title fight between Jan Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya.
For Blachowicz it is all about the power. The 37-year-old’s record hardly screams ‘knockout artist’ with only eight of his 27 professional victories coming via KO/TKO, but three of his last four victories have all come via strikes so the light-heavyweight champion will have plenty of confidence in his fists going into this one. Blachowicz is likely to be the heaviest hitter that Adesanya, a natural middleweight, has ever faced, so if he lands a big shot we will find out just how well the challenger’s chin can stand up to fighting at 205lbs. He has to land the big shot though, and that is a problem.
Blachowicz is something of a flat-footed striker who looks to unload with power during striking exchanges, but Adesanya is not going to just stand in front of him and slug away. We saw in the New Zealander’s win over Yoel Romero a year ago that he can easily negate a big-hitter. It may not have been pretty, in fact it was an incredibly dull bout for 25 minutes, but the fact was ‘The Last Stylebender’ fought the perfect fight to ensure that he walked out of the Octagon with his crown intact. We could see something similar here as he looks to avoid those heavy hands coming his way.
The blueprint for Adesanya is ‘hit and don’t get hit’, a gameplan that he is more than capable of executing. When all is said and done the New Zealander could go down as the greatest striker we have ever seen in mixed martial arts, taking skills that the likes of Anderson Silva showcased to the next level. He uses great kicking technique to keep his opponent at range and despite fighting in a smaller weight class usually, he does boast a slight advantage over Blachowicz in both reach and leg reach. Couple that ability to strike effectively from range with outstanding footwork and head movement, and you have the perfect recipe to pick apart an opponent for 25 minutes. Adesanya has the skillset to hit and not get hit.
Now, if Blachowicz can get his hands on Adesanya and get him to the mat things could get ugly for the challenger, but I do not expect that to happen. Remember, footwork and reach! Adesanya is going to fight at range, he is going to pepper the champion with crisp strikes and he will punish him with heavier blows whenever Blachowicz attempts to close the distance or perhaps tries to chase him down. I am not sold on Adesanya putting the champion away to win the title in a swift, emphatic fashion, but I do believe that ‘The Last Stylebender’ will eventually break down Blachowicz and finish him off in the championship rounds.
Jan Blachowicz v Israel Adesanya Live Odds
Road To Jan Blachowicz v Israel Adesanya
Israel Adesanya’s rise to the top of the middleweight ladder was a swift one. ‘The Last Stylebender’ made his UFC debut just over three years ago and since that night he has reeled off nine straight victories to storm to the summit in the division. Having established himself as a potential future start with a couple of wins over non-ranked fighters, Adesanya really upped his game in late 2018 as he dispatched Derek Brunson inside a round and then outclassed the legendary Anderson Silva over five rounds before getting the better of Kelvin Gastelum to earn the interim 185lb crown. That interim goal became undisputed gold in October 2019 when he took out Robert Whittaker inside two rounds with a special display of striking that was too much for the Australian to deal with.
Those victories set Adesanya up for what would be a huge 2020 campaign but, as we all know, events across the globe slowed the rise of the new middleweight champion. In one of the final events that had fans in attendance, Adesanya bettered the always dangerous Yoel Romero over five rounds to get the nod from the judges. Pre-fight fireworks never materialised in that one, but ‘The Last Stylebender’ showed off his ‘Fight IQ’ in that one to ensure he was not ‘one and done’ as champion, and when he returned to the Octagon last September he was in much more destructive mood.
Adesanya took apart Paulo Costa’s lead leg for around seven minutes and then dispatched the challenge with a picture perfect left-hand to force the referee to wave it off, and after the bad taste of his post-fight outburst cleared all of the talk was about what would happen next. Would he make a second defence of his title in 2021 or would he step up to light-heavyweight an attempt to become a two-weight champion? We got the answer when it was confirmed that Adesanya would challenge Jan Blachowicz for the 205lb bet at UFC 259.
While Adesanya enjoyed a lightning quick ride to the summit at 185lb, Blachowicz has been forced to grind out a road to the top of the light-heavyweight division that has taken him over six years. The Polish fighter’s UFC future looked pretty bleak when he dropped four of his first six fights under the UFC banner, but he rebounded with a four-fight win streak to maintain his job and make some waves in the light-heavyweight rankings. His momentum stalled when he was knocked out by Thiago Santos in February 2019, but since that night Blachowicz has been on a tear.
Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza and Corey Anderson was all dispatched to set up a meeting with Dominick Reyes for the vacant 205lb title, and Blahowicz took his opportunity in brilliant fashion. He had gone into the fight as the underdog due to Reyes’ impressive effort against Jon Jones in his previous fight, but he unloaded with a series of devastating kicks to the body that knocked the wins out of Reyes in the first round, and when his opponent tried to press the fight in the second Blachowicz put it to bed. A flurry of punches put Reyes away, completing Blachowicz’s rise to the top of the light-heavyweight division.
But will Blachowicz still be the king of the light-heavyweight division after March 6, or will Adesanya write his name into the UFC record books by following in the footsteps of Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, Amanda Nunes and Henry Cejudo by becoming the fifth fighter in promotion history to hold titles in two different weight classes at the same time.
Jan Blachowicz v Israel Adesanya Betting Tips: Expert Predictions
Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker talking to Submission Radio: “Yeah, I do [think Adesanya will beat Blachowicz]. I think his striking is just so much better. Jan’s got that big power, but Israel doesn’t really get hit that much. I think this is a picture-perfect time for Izzy to try and take that belt away from the division, for sure.”
UFC light-heavyweight fighter Paul Craig talking to talkSPORT: “We’ve seen guys move up through the divisions to move up to light-heavyweight and it worked out for people like Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos. But it didn’t work out for Luke Rockhold and it didn’t work out for Chris Weidman who were champions. So I think sometimes having that extra weight and having the structure to have the muscle that Jan has, because he is a big guy, I don’t think is a favourable fight for Izzy. He’s never really been tested with regards to shots and I think if Jan can’t land big, heavy shots on him, he’s just going to take him down and grind him out that way.”