Tonight in Las Vegas, current middleweight champion, Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya attempts to gain access to one of the most exclusive clubs in the entirety of professional mixed martial arts. Only four have succeeded in their quest before him. Conor McGregor. Henry Cejudo. Daniel Cormier. And fellow UFC 259 feature, Amanda Nunes. What do these all have in common? They’ll all go down in the history books at two-weight UFC world champions held simultaneously.
It’s unchartered territory for Adesanya in professional mixed martial arts. The light heavyweight division brings with it some of the heaviest punchers at the elite level of this sport — arguably no more so than fellow headliner, Jan Blachowicz. Adesanya has shared the Octagon with middleweight behemoths, Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa, and while neither managed to score significant success against him — Blachowicz frighteningly appears to have more stopping power than both.
Adesanya may face arguably the sternest challenge of his bid to chase a second title on paper in the form of Blachowicz when compared to light heavyweight competition stacked from one to fifteen, but Blachowicz also arguably faces the biggest threat to his 205-pound championship — at his first attempted title defence.
The danger presented by Blachowicz which would prevent Adesanya from joining that utterly exclusive club is something that has risen to prominence in the last two years. Proclaimed ‘Polish Power’. The 38-year-old has steamed through the likes of Luke Rockhold, Corey Anderson, and Dominick Reyes since the summer of 2019 — in some real career-standout performances.
Breaking Rockhold’s jaw with a massive hook in the clinch followed by a couple of shots on the ground, Blachowicz stamped his own championship aspirations over a former titleholder who had already booked a ticket opposite then-champion Jon Jones, at least in his own estimations.
Rematching The Ultimate Fighter 19 victor, Corey Anderson in February of last year, Blachowicz earned his own rank as the number-one contender at light heavyweight — folding Anderson with a massive first round knockout.
Competing for vacant championship spoils on ‘Fight Island’ in September beneath Adesanya in a co-main event clash, Blachowicz, whom had been overlooked massively given his tumultuous early period with the UFC sprang a massive knockout over the above mentioned, Reyes — breaking the Californian’s nose in the run-up to the finish after battering his ribs with round kicks.
Adesanya took no real significant damage in his last two outings against the aforenoted, Costa and Romero, and a cautious, movement and countering approach should be taken against someone with the power that Blachowicz possesses.
Hitting the scales at 200.5-pounds for the matchup, Adesanya seems to be hopeful of retaining his reflexes and speed a division higher, and I wouldn’t expect him to weigh north of 205-pounds tonight when he actually stands opposite Blachowicz inside the Octagon. Whilst the overall pace advantage should fall at the feet of Adesanya, Blachowicz is likely to make his walk anywhere close to 220-pounds tonight. The overall size aspect of this clash falls firmly in the sway of Blachowicz’s direction.
Adesanya also shares the UFC 259 event with one-time title challenger, Thiago Santos — who just so happens to be the sole competitor to finish Blachowicz with strikes. Whilst Adesanya and Santos share contrasting striking styles, in regards to backgrounds and overall power — the former can still take some aspects of Santos’ performance into his matchup tonight.
Finding some considerable success with a notable outside leg kick, a particular calf kick variant seems majorly available on Blachowicz’s orthodox lead left, as does a forward pressure hampering oblique kick. Forced to close the distance on the Brazilian, Blachowicz, who was largely losing the striking exchanges rushed onto a clipping, back step left hook — a similar shot Adesanya found on past foes, Costa and Robert Whittaker. Blachowicz may find himself leaning favourably on the power equation in this one, however, Adesanya’s expertise in the countering arts are certainly unmatched.
This is largely going to play out on the feet, I think the consensus would tend to agree with that standpoint — and it could really come down to a power versus precision battle in that environment. Blachowicz takes the power advantage. And Adesanya takes the precision head.
It’s this usual patient, composed and masterful gameplan which we’ve seen Adesanya employ in literally each of his UFC appearances that has me slightly leaning toward a later round finish for him, however, taking someone of Blachowicz’s poise and resilience off his feet with strikes is most definitely something that’s as rare an occurrence as hen’s teeth. His ability to stay composed both with his back to the fence, or even when assuming dominance in terms of Octagon control — allows Adesanya to patiently set up his offensive actions, and I’m not entirely sure Blachowicz is the dynamic opponent needed to force fight-altering mistakes from Adesanya with his own respective movement.
Prediction: Israel Adesanya def. Jan Blachowicz via knockout
Senior writer for FightBook MMA. An aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Producer of news articles, interviews, opinion features, and exclusive features such as, ‘The Fallout’, ‘The Breakdown, and, ‘This Week In MMA’.
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