The most stacked card of the year is tonight! From top to bottom, UFC 259 looks like a legendary lineup. 15 fights booked with 3 huge title fights to cap the night. Of course, we're watching every fight, but today we're doing to breakdown the biggest fights of the night and give our picks.
Jan 'Prince of Cieszyn' Błachowicz Vs. Israel 'The Last Stylebender' Adesanya
Light Heavyweight Championship
For almost a decade, Jon Jones has reigned as king of the light heavyweight division. Since he's vacated the throne, and left the division, a new champion has been crowned—the 'Prince of Cieszyn'.
Jan Błachowicz (27-8) is fresh off of winning the 205-pound title at UFC 253, becoming the second Polish champion in UFC history. The former KSW light heavyweight champion has had ups and downs on his UFC career, losing 4 of his first 6 fights, and then winning 8 of his next 9. Of his 27 career wins, 8 have come by KO/TKOs and 9 have been submissions. He trains with WCA Fight Team out of Warsaw, Poland.
In this fight, the UFC light heavyweight title is at stake, but for Błachowicz, it may be much more than that. He only won the vacant title after Jon Jones left the division to fight at heavyweight. He did beat a worthy challenger in Dominick Reyes, who many (like us) believe he beat Jones and should have won the decision.
What’s even more impressive is that he won by second-round knockout (punches). The Polish prince will get a chance to prove that he is light heavyweight royalty, and worthy of the crown. His first title defense will be against another titleholder, the current undisputed middleweight champion.
Israel Adesanya (20-0) has taken the MMA world by storm since crossing over from kickboxing. In the UFC, his 9-fight undefeated run to the 185-pound belt has been nothing short of epic. His fights are wildly entertaining, and his body count consists of killers and legends of the sport.
Names like Robert Whittaker, Kelvin Gastelum, Paulo Costa, Yoel Romero, Anderson Silva, fill his MMA résumé. In such a short UFC career, he has four title fights, four knockouts, five ‘Performance of the Night’ bonuses, and two ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses. The Kiwi fighter also trains with City Kickboxing out of Auckland, New Zealand. He is coached by Eugene Bareman.
'The Last Stylebender' has already proven that he is one of the best fighters in UFC middleweight history. This fight is a chance to show that he can transcend weight classes and add more to his legacy. If he wins this fight, it would also be a step in the direction towards the Jon Jones fight that everyone is hoping for.
Styles Make Fights
This is Izzy’s fight to win. He’s quicker, more athletic, and as a striker, is just on a completely different level than everyone else. If the guys we just listed couldn’t catch him, than Jan isn’t going to. ‘Stylebender’ should look to use his superior speed and striking IQ to jab, feint, and calf kick his opponent to death, and slowly pick him apart.
It’s not secret that Jan’s best chance to win this fight will be getting it to the ground. He’s has to make it dirty, ugly fight. Another key is he should try to strike as little as possible, but when he has to, be in close/clinch range. A five-round striking match would not end well for the Błachowicz.
We're picking Israel Adesanya to win this fight handily by knockout.
Amanda 'The Lioness' Nunes Vs. Megan Anderson
Featherweight Championship | Co-Main Event
Amanda Nunes (20-4) has not only beaten the world’s best fighters, she has dominated them ruthlessly. On her road to UFC gold, she’s racked up highlight reel KO’s over former champions Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, and Holly Holm. She even has two wins over both the flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko and the former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie. The Brazilian fighter is widely considered the greatest female fighter in MMA history.
Nunes has essentially cleaned out two weight classes while simultaneously retaining world titles in both, and becoming the first female double-champ ever (bantamweight, featherweight). She comes into this fight riding an 11-fight win streak, with 8 of them being title fights. In her 20 professional MMA wins, she has 13 KO/TKOs and 3 submissions. This fight will be her second featherweight title defense. Nunes also trains with American Top Team out of Coconut Creek, Florida, a is coached by former UFC fighter Mike Brown.
Defeating the world’s best fighter is a tall task, so it’s fitting to be on the division’s tallest fighter. The 6-foot featherweight and former Invicta FC featherweight Megan Anderson will be taking on 'The Lioness'.
Anderson (11-4) has had a bumpy start to her UFC career. She lost her debut to Holly Holm, who came up from bantamweight, and was 0-2 as a featherweight. She wins her next fight against Cat Zingano, but it ended controversially by an eye poke. Then, she gets submitted by Felicia Spencer in a title eliminator fight. Since then, Anderson has 2 back-to-back finishes, and has gained the momentum she needs for a title shot. The Aussie fighter trains with Glory MMA out of Lees Summit, Missouri. She is coached by UFC fighter James Krause.
Styles Make Fights
On paper, it looks like Nunes should take this fight easily. She's got all the records and accolades, and all the tools to win. She's crushed nearly everyone in her path, and hasn't lost in 5 years. She is the best.
Stylistically, though, Anderson has some advantages to exploit. She already has the edge in height and reach—6 feet to 5’9” and 72.5” to 69”. She’s not as fast or athletic, but being the bigger girl, she should also have the edge in strength. We’ll just have to see if they get into the clinch.
Her chance to win this fight is use technical striking to frustrate Nunes into rushing forward and being countered. Elbows and knees in the clinch are a good plan B, but that’s not a game she would want to play.
All in all, it should be a great fight to watch, but we're picking Amanda Nunes to win this fight by decision.
Petr 'No Mercy' Yan Vs. Aljamain 'Funkmaster' Sterling
Russia’s Petr Yan (15-1) comes into this fight on a 10-fight win streak, and has won all 7 of is UFC fights with 4 coming by KO/TKO. The questions about Yan are not about his skill, but more so about his experience. His last two fights were knockout finishes but against older fighters passed their respective primes. In the last fight, he won the vacant title against Jose Aldo, who was 0-1 as a bantamweight at the time. His most impressive UFC win is against Jimmie Rivera, but he had already lost to Sterling before.
The point here is that Yan hasn’t faced the same level of competition as Sterling. In this fight, Yan will get a chance to defend his title against the most worthy opponent in their absolute prime. He definitely has the tools to win, so it should be a hell of a fight. The former ACB bantamweight champion trains with Tiger Muay Thai out of Phuket, Thailand.
New York’s Aljamain Sterling (19-3) comes into this fight on a 5-fight win streak that, arguably, is more impressive than Yan’s streak. After a tough knockout loss to Marlon Moraes, he has put together an impressive string of performances earning a chance at UFC gold. On the way to his title shot, he’s beaten the cream of the crop in the 135-pound division. Defeating guys like Pedro Munhoz, Jimmie Rivera, and Cory Sandhagen has solidified Sterling at a true number one contender.
The former CFFC bantamweight champion is 11-3 in his UFC career with 4 submissions. This guy loves to grapple, and is widely considered the best grappler in the bantamweight division. The American fighter trains with Serra-Longo Fight Team out of Long Island, New York. He is coached by former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra.
Styles Make Fights
This is the fight we're most excited to see. Here we have a striker vs. grappler matchup. Of course, these guys can do both, but we know what their strengths are. Yan has elite level boxing skills both offensively and defensively. He throws more than just punches, but everything is to set up his power shots. He is pure pressure, heavy hands, and a very strong chin.
We're picking Aljamain Sterling to win this fight by submission.
Thiago 'Marreta' Santos Vs. Aleksandar ‘Rocket’ Rakić
Light Heavyweight Bout
In his 20 UFC fights, Thiago Santos (21-8) has 11 KO/TKOs, and earned 4 ‘Performance of the Night’ bonuses and 2 ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses. He has phenomenally powerful striking, and is known to have some of the most vicious kicks in the UFC.
Just in case his chest tattoo didn’t give it away, ‘Marreta’ means sledgehammer in Portuguese. As a middleweight, the Brazilian fighter had a record of 10-5, but could never get a title shot. After moving up to light heavyweight, he won 3 straight fights all by knockout, and finally earned a shot; this time at Jon Jones.
‘Marreta’ embodied another element of a hammer in that fight—toughness. Even after tearing nearly every ligament in his left knee, he still engaged and threw strikes. He was still bringing the fight to his opponent. Even though he lost by decision, that performance rose his stock as a legit contender.
In his last fight, however, he ran into another tough fighter, Glover Texeira. Santos had his moments, but was severely out-grappled until he was submitted in the third round (rear-naked choke). His next fight is a chance to make his claim to be next in line for the title. Santos trains with Tata Fight Team out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Aleksandar Rakić (13-2) might be the dark horse of the light heavyweight division. He has a 5-1 record in the UFC, and his only loss came by split decision to Volkan Oezdemir. It was a fight that many think he should have won. In his 13 pro MMA wins, he has 9 knockouts.
His biggest career highlight came at UFC Fight Night 153 when he KO’d Jimi Manuwa via headkick. The Austrian fighter is coming off another big win when he dominated former title challenger Anthony Smith. Rakić is obviously a great striker with a promising career. He trains with Gym 23 out of Vienna, Austria.
Styles Make Fights
This matchup is very exciting. On paper, the fight looks like a striker’s dream. Two of the best kick boxers in the division going toe-to-toe for a spot in the title picture. We don’t expect anyone to shoot a double-leg, but the clinch could definitely come into play for both fighters.
Santos will probably have the speed advantage, and the more powerful kicks. He’ll want to control the distance and attack his opponents legs to slow him down and counter strike. Rakić is pretty big for the 205-pound division, but he moves quickly for his size. In this fight, he will have the height, reach, and most likely, the strength advantage. He’ll want to intelligently pressure his opponent to crowd his kicks, mix in the clinch, and wear him down. This will open up more opportunities for his power punches to land on the quicker guy.
We're picking Thiago Santos to win by knockout.
Other notable fights booked for UFC 259:
Islam Mackhachev vs. Drew Dober
Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney
Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov
Sean Brady vs. Jake Matthews