Four champions, three titles on the line
A star-studded UFC 259 features four champions as middleweight king Israel Adesanya moves up to 205lbs to take on light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz, Amanda Nunes defends her crown against dangerous challenger Megan Anderson, and Petr Yan puts his belt on the line against Aljamain Sterling.
Betfred’s UFC expert Kevin Tsang has given us his breakdown of Saturday’s (early hours of Sunday for those in the UK) blockbuster event.
- Jan Blachowicz (c) vs. Israel Adesanya (Light Heavyweight)
- Amanda Nunes (c) vs. Megan Anderson (Women’s Featherweight)
- Petr Yan (c) vs. Aljamain Sterling (Bantamweight)
- Islam Makhachev vs. Drew Dober (Lightweight)
- Thiago Santos vs. Aleksandar Rakic (Light Heavyweight)
- Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney (Bantamweight)
- Song Yadong vs. Kyler Phillips (Bantamweight)
- Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov (Flyweight)
- Rogerio Bontorin vs. Kai Kara-France (Flyweight)
- Livia Renata Souza vs. Amanda Lemos (Women’s Strawweight)
- Tim Elliott vs. Jordan Espinosa (Flyweight)
- Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Carlos Ulberg (Light Heavyweight)
- Sean Brady vs. Jake Matthews (Welterweight)
- Uros Medic vs. Aalon Cruz (Lightweight)
- Mario Bautista vs. Trevin Jones (Bantamweight)
Where, when and how can I watch it?
UFC 259 will be broadcast live on BT Sport 2 in the UK. The early prelims start at midnight (Saturday into Sunday), and the main card is expected to kick off at around 3am GMT. We expect the main event of Blachowicz and Adesanya to start at around 6am GMT.
Adesanya bids to become a two-division UFC champ this weekend
Israel Adesanya – “Champ Champ?”
Undefeated in his MMA career (20-0 with 15 knockouts), Israel Adesanya really is the modern-day Anderson Silva – but can he do what “The Spider” never achieved and become a two-division champion in the UFC?
Adesanya’s last fight came against Paulo Costa at UFC 253 back in September last year. Undefeated at the time, many MMA fans expected Costa to be Adesanya’s toughest test, due to his relentless striking and pressure on the feet, but in the end it became one of his easiest assignments to date.
Throughout the fight, Adesanya was able to use the pressure against his opponent and constantly punish Costa as he went on the offense. Costa eventually broke down in the 2nd round and the Style Bender finished him with a TKO victory.
Blachowicz – Adesanya’s toughest test to date?
Jan Blachowicz – “Believe in the Polish Power!”
2020 was a huge year for Jan, who became the first Polish male UFC Champion ever – claiming the lightweight belt by defeating the ever-so talented Dominic Reyes at UFC 253 in September last year – and didn’t he do it in style!
The fight played out exactly how he wanted, staying calm and collected in the first round with the knowledge that Reyes is renowned for his explosive starts. He threw some lovely combinations and finished them off with kicks to the body.
In the end, this seemed to be winning formula for Jan (27-8-0). The damage sustained on the right side of Reyes proved to have been too much. This eventually made his opponent drop his hands and leave himself open to a vicious left hook.
Prediction – Adesanya TKO Round 2
Since his defeat to Thiago Santos, we’ve seen Jan grow in all areas of his game. There’s no doubt he has the power, and his grappling has improved significantly. But, I believe Adesanya is just in a class of his own.
At times, Jan can be a bit flat-footed in his fights, and this can be extremely dangerous against a fighter like Adesanya. Israel is very patient, quick, and incredibly precise with his shots. Similar to Anderson Silva, he’s got that natural ability to sense out an opponent’s weakness and capitalise on it.
For me this is an easy KO victory for Adesanya.
Adesanya to win by KO/TKO/DQ – 6/5 at Betfred
Adesanya to win in Round 2 – 6/1 at Betfred
Nunes is a very short-priced favourite at Betfred to defend her title at the weekend
Amanda Nunes – “The greatest female MMA fighter of all time”
There’s no doubt in my mind, Amanda Nunes (20-4-0), the only fighter to ever hold and defend two UFC titles simultaneously, is the greatest Female MMA fighter of all time.
Her last performance came against a tough Felicia Spencer and lasted the full five championship rounds. Overall, it was a dominant performance by the champ, out-striking her opponent and going toe-to-toe with Spencer in the grappling exchanges.
Huge credit to Spencer for going the distance, as this fight could have definitely been called early. Nothing short of perfection, in my honest opinion.
Can Megan Anderson cause ‘one of the greatest upsets in MMA history’?
Megan Anderson – “Her toughest test yet”
With two first-round finishes from her last two fights, Megan Anderson (11-4-0) has earned herself a bout with one of the GOATs.
She was last in action against Norma Dumont, showing great defence early on to stop all of her opponent’s takedown attempt. With little success, Dumont seemed exhausted. Then, out of nowhere, a counter-right drops Dumont like a sack of potatoes and that’s all she wrote!
Prediction – Amanda Nunes KO Round 1
The first thing we have to address is the height and reach advantage. Megan Anderson is a tall (6ft) featherweight with an incredibly long reach (72 ½) – in contrast, Amanda Nunes is only 5ft 8in with a reach of 69 inches, which is weird because in most cases Nunes would usually have the physical advantage.
Therefore, we might see Nunes get outgunned on the feet and if she does it would go down as one of the greatest upsets in MMA history.
However, I honestly cannot see this happening. Amanda Nunes is a special breed of fighter who covers all areas of MMA extremely well. Her striking is ferocious, her ground game and grappling is extremely strong, and so I believe Amanda will get the job done early!
Nunes to win in Round 1 – 11/8 with Betfred
Petr Yan has won the title – but can he defend it?
Petr Yan – “Russia’s master striker”
Newly-crowned bantamweight champion Petr Yan (15-1-0) makes the first defence of his title against number one contender Aljamain Sterling.
There are a lot of questions around whether Yan is the real deal or not because, as we’ve seen many times in the past, it’s a challenge to become champion, but to defend it is another!
Yan’s last performance came against “The King of Rio” and arguably one of the best featherweights of all time, Jose Aldo. It was a slow start from Yan, but as the fight approached the championship rounds we saw him put the pedal to the gas and started teeing off against the former champion. He started to find his range and a one-two in the final round dropped Aldo to claim the Bantamweight title.
Aljamain Sterling will be hoping to make Petr Yan’s reign as bantamweight champion a particularly short one
Aljamain Sterling – “Can he step up to the challenge?”
Often described as the Jon Jones of the bantamweight division, Aljamain Sterling is enjoying one of his greatest win streaks in his UFC career.
His last performance against Corey Sandhagen was mightily impressive. Sterling exploded out of the blocks, putting the pressure on his opponent from the word go. He eventually caught one of Corey’s kicks and immediately got him into clinch. Using his pressure against the cage, Sterling was able to manoeuvre on to the back of his opponent and eventually finishing him off via rear naked choke.
Prediction – Aljamain Sterling Submission Round 3
Undoubtedly, Yan is a very talented fighter with ridiculous cardio and masterful boxing skills. He’s also got a very good chin and is a brilliant counter-puncher. But how good is his grappling? In all of his fights in the UFC, we’ve never seen him against a top-class wrestler.
Sterling’s career made a huge turnaround as his striking improved in 2018. Whilst I assume his game plan is to take Yan to the ground and not go toe-to-toe in on the feet, his stand-up improvements will undoubtedly help set up those takedowns.
I believe that we’ll see a new bantamweight champion on Saturday night!
Sterling to win by submission – 7/2 with Betfred
Sterling to win in Round 3 – 14/1 with Betfred