Jan Blachowicz denied UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya’s attempt to make history by using his wrestling to secure a unanimous decision victory and retain his light heavyweight title at UFC 259 on Saturday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Blachowicz was caught in a high-octane kickboxing chess match early but decided to commit to taking down Adesanya in the final two rounds to earn scores of 49-45, 49-45 and 49-46. It prevented Adesanya from becoming a two-division champion and proved that the Polish fighter is the king of the 205-pound division.
“I won the fight and that’s it, but it was a tough fight,” Blachowicz said of his first title defense after defeating Dominick Reyes for the vacant title last September. “Thank you, Izzy, for this fight. It was a pleasure for me to fight against someone like you, but ‘and still.’ I’m happy. I’m happy that I can be the first to beat him, one of the best in the world.
“I’m a true champion, I deserve what I got. It was a hard job for me tonight, but I do my best. We did almost everything, what we prepared for him in the gym we did in the fight. I’m happy. I won the fight and what we do works in the fight.”
Amanda Nunes once again proved that she is arguably the greatest mixed martial artist on the planet — male or female — with an utter wipeout of Megan Anderson. After hurting her early with a right hand, Nunes swiftly went in for the kill and sunk in an armbar to get the easy first-round submission.
“I like the challenge,” Nunes said. “In my life, I was always like that, challenging myself every time. If you don’t want a challenge, you’re in the wrong sport. I picked MMA for a reason. I’m here, I’m a champion and I’m defending these belts. I’m going to be here for a long time.”
In the third title fight on the card, Aljamain Sterling became the UFC bantamweight champion in disappointing fashion when Petr Yan was disqualified for an illegal knee in the fourth round of their title showdown. Yan was ahead on the scorecards before he made the inexplicable mistake of firing a knee on a downed Sterling. With Sterling unable to continue, the fight was called off and the No. 1 contender ended up being crowned the champion.
“Everything I worked for to this point and to have the fight go like that . . . I thought the fight was very close, I thought I was down two rounds,” Sterling said. “That’s not the way I wanted to win. That’s not the way I envisioned this. I just took the belt off. I was trying to continue even being like that, I was in a bad shape and it would just have been ego taking over and just to get further punishment. The ref told me I was down. I don’t know. I understand that there is some heat, some bad blood a little bit, but it’s all rivalry…”
Here’s how it all went down in Las Vegas.
UFC 259 live updates, highlights from Israel Adesanya vs. Jan Blachowicz
Jan Blachowicz uses wrestling to retain title against Israel Adesanya
(All times Eastern)
1:23 a.m.: And the scores are in: 49-46, 49-45 and 49-45 for Jan Blachowicz! The champion retains and turns back Israel Adesanya’s attempt to make history. Big upset. Scores are a little suspect but the right man won.
Round 5 (1:19 a.m.): Leg kick and jab by Jan. Right hand by Izzy. Another. Hard combination by Izzy. Izzy landing with more frequency. Jan looks tired. Spinning body kick by Izzy. Jan lands a jab but Izzy keeps coming. Jan with a takedown! That’s huge. Izzy working his way to the cage. Jan moves to half guard. Ninety seconds left. Izzy can’t get up. And it’s over. Jan finishes the round mounted on Adesanya. Uh-oh. 10-9, Blachowicz (48-47, Blachowicz)
Round 4 (1:13 a.m.): Izzy with a leg kick. Right hand lands. Jan presses him against the fence. Looking for a takedown. Nothing. Right hand by Jan lands. Hard right hand by Izzy. Combination lands. Jan with a takedown. Lots of time left. Jan controlling Izzy on the ground. No damage but putting his weight on him. Jan moves to side control. Has controlled him the entire round. 10-9, Blachowicz (38-38)
Round 3 (1:06 a.m.): Right hand lands by Jan. Left hand by Jan. He’s closing the distance. Gets a takedown. Izzy is up. They exchange and Izzy stuns him with a left hand. Izzy is on him now. Stings him with a jab. Body kick lands from Izzy, Jan wraps him up and presses him on the cage. Smart. Izzy spins him off and fires a knee. Jab by Jan lands Izzy fires right back. Hard right hand by Izzy. Jan with a stiff jab. Left hand by Jan. Jan clinches with Izzy and presses him on the cage. The separate. Right hand by Izzy. Good round by Jan. 10-9, Blachowicz (29-28, Adesanya)
Round 2 (1 a.m.): Jan is biting on every feint. Jab by Izzy lands. Body kick by Izzy lands. Izzy lands another left hand. Jan responds with a right hand. Starting to heat up. Inside leg kicks by Adesanya. Jan grabs Izzy but can’t hold him. More inside leg kicks. Body kick for Jan lands. Low blow from Adesanya stops the action. Jan rushes but misses. Izzy lands a jab. Jan tries a flying knee that Izzy laughs at. More inside leg kicks. 10-9, Adesanya (20-18, Adesanya)
Round 1 (12:53 a.m.): Jan moving forward but Izzy fires a leg kick to let him know what’s up. Jan rushes in but lands nothing. Jan spending a lot of time on the outside. Head kick blocked by Jan. Chess match. Right hand by Izzy. Jan can’t figure out when Izzy is going to throw. He’s frozen for now. Feeling out round where Jan did everything wrong waiting on the outside. Adesanya, 10-9
12:36 a.m.: Israel Adesanya looks to become a two-division champion when he challenges Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title next in the main event.
Nunes dominates, submits Anderson to retain title
Round 1 (12:25 a.m.): Nunes lands a hard right hand and a leg kick. And it was loud. Right hand by Nunes rocks Anderson . . . bad. Nunes is killing her. Anderson shoots for a takedown and Nunes pounds on her, takes her back, sets up the armbar. It’s over. Just retire the belt, put Nunes’ face on it and move on. She’s the GOAT.
12:12 a.m.: The second title fight of the night is up next as Amanda Nunes looks to defend her 145-pound title against Megan Anderson.
Sterling wins bantamweight title after Yan DQ’d for illegal knee
Round 4 (12:06 a.m.): Yan lands a hard combination. Sterling fires back but none of this is bothering Yan. Sterling still trying to get a takedown and Yan is stuffing it. Fires a left hand that lands on Sterling. It’s like Sterling is fighting a rock. He can’t move it. Yan lands a kick to the body. Aljo is still throwing despite being tired. Yan lands another left hand and it moves Aljo. He’s not reacting well to the strikes landed. Big combination by Yan. Sterling eats it and keeps coming forward. Head kick by Sterling lands. Yan is again not bothered. Yan lands a knee while Aljo is down! Sterling can’t get up. Yan is on the verge of losing this fight by DQ. And they have called the fight.
Round 3 (11:53 p.m.): Sterling pops off a few jabs and a body kick. Yan senses that Sterling is slowing down and lands a right hand. Sterling is fading. Needs a second wind. Right hand by Yan lands. Body kick. Yan is pressing forward. Leg trip by Yan. Hard right hand by Yan again. Sterling is fading fast. Yan tosses him down again. There are still two rounds left and Yan is fresh. Sterling lands several leg kicks but Yan is not concerned. Yan with another takedown to close the round. 10-9, Yan (29-28, Yan)
Round 2 (11:47 p.m.): Sterling comes out firing again. Yan is composed and picking his spots. Sterling shoots but Yan stuffs. Sterling is burning a LOT of energy. Yan is just chilling. Sterling looking to get the takedown but Yan is defending well. Sterling keeps charging in. Yan hasn’t done much but try to fend Sterling off. Sterling is just pressuring the hell out of him. Yan gets a takedown with 20 seconds left. Sterling was much busier. 10-9, Sterling (19-19)
Round 1 (11:41 p.m.): Sterling applying pressure early and firing those kicks. Flying knee from Sterling lands. Lots of pressure. Yan lands a body kick to back Sterling off but Aljo continues the pace. Yan throws him down but won’t follow him to the canvas. Another flying knee from Sterling lands. Sterling takes Yan down. Yan pops back up. Yan cracks Sterling and down he goes. Sterling is back up and firing. Yan gets taken down from a leg scissor but ends up on top position. Yan back to his feet. Yan takes Sterling’s back and both are back up. Yan, 10-9
11:20 p.m.: Up next is the first of three title fights as Petr Yan makes his first defense of the UFC bantamweight title against top contender Aljamain Sterling. Sterling scratched and clawed his way to this opportunity with five straight victories over the best in the division. Yan stopped Jose Aldo to get the title but can he prove that he’s truly the king of the division against Aljo?
Makhachev puts on grappling clinic, submits Dober in third
11:15 p.m.: This was a grappling clinic of the highest degree by Islam Makhachev as he submits the tough Drew Dober with an arm triangle in the third round. Makhachev was absolutely dominant and looked every bit the part of a fighter who will almost certainly find his way into a title fight sooner than later. Dober had no answers for Makhachev’s takedowns and grappling and was drowning fast over the course of three rounds. After being planted on his back for the first two rounds, he was exhausted entering the final frame and the end was certain. A failed kimura attempt led to an arm triangle in half guard that earned the submission. Be wary, lightweights, Makhachev is coming.
10:58 p.m.: Islam Makhachev faces Drew Dober next on the UFC 259 main card. Makhachev has been pushed as the next big thing under the tutelage of Khabib Nurmagomedov. It’s a lofty expectation for the Dagestan fighter but he can prove himself if he is able to get by the powerful Dober.
Rakic gets past Santos with uneventful decision
10:43 p.m.: This certainly wasn’t the fight we anticipated as Santos and Rakic engaged in a cautious fight that lacked the fireworks that it seemed to offer on paper. Not to mention that the winner would put themselves in position to challenge for the light heavyweight title. Instead, Rakic got the decision in a nip-and-tuck fight where neither fighter took a real risk. It’s unfortunate but Rakic gets the win.
10:22 p.m.: We’re kicking off the UFC 259 main card with a light heavyweight battle between Thiago Santos and Aleksandar Rakic. Rakic has been on the rise, but can he get past the heavy-handed Santos, who pushed Jon Jones not too long ago?
10:01 p.m.: Dominick Cruz finds himself back in the win column with a split decision victory over Casey Kenney. Cruz, who has only fought six times in the past decade, used his usual mix of footwork and striking with the occasional takedown to showcase the form that once had him as a top-five pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Kenney put up a good fight but Cruz was just too sharp on this night. At 36, it seems like the former bantamweight champion could have one last run in him.
9:30 p.m.: Kyler Phillips mixed it up beautifully to keep Song Yadong off-balance and secure an impressive unanimous decision victory. Yadong is known for his relentless pressure and striking but Phillips’ footwork, angles, wrestling and striking was simply excellent tonight. He’ll have a number by his name next week.
9:02 p.m.: It might be time for Joseph Benavidez to consider his future in MMA as he was thoroughly dominated by Askar Askarov in a unanimous decision loss. Benavidez is a multiple-time title contender but has yet to win the big one and found himself on the wrong end of every facet of the game against Askarov. Meanwhile, Askarov has entered his name into the hat for a future title fight with an exceptional performance against a longtime staple of the division.
8:30 p.m.: Well, guys, you’ve missed a whole lot if you’re just now checking in. Six of the first seven fights ended inside the distance while Tim Elliott’s dominant decision over Jordan Espinoza included a segment where Elliott accused his opponent of domestic abuse, right in the middle of the fight. Yeah, it was a lot. So here are some highlights:
What time does UFC 259 start?
- Early prelims: 5:15 p.m. ET
- Prelims: 8 p.m. ET
- PPV main card: 10 p.m. ET
- How to watch: ESPN+ PPV ($89.98)
Broadcast coverage of UFC 259 will begin with the UFC Fight Pass prelims at 5:15 p.m. ET followed by the prelims at 8 p.m. ET. The pay-per-view event is set to begin at 10 p.m. ET. Adesanya and Blachowicz are expected to hit the Octagon about 12:15 a.m. ET, although the exact time depends on the length of earlier fights.
UFC 259 fight card & results
Main card (ESPN+ PPV)
- Jan Błachowicz def. Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 49-46) to retain light heavyweight title.
- Amanda Nunes def. Megan Anderson via 1st-round submission to retain women’s featherweight title (2:03).
- Aljamain Sterling def. Petr Yan via 4th-round disqualification for UFC bantamweight championship (4:29).
- Islam Makhachev def. Drew Dober via 3rd-round submission (1:37).
- Aleksandar Rakić def. Thiago Santos via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Preliminary card (ESPN/ESPN+)
- Dominick Cruz def. Casey Kenney via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 & 28-29).
- Kyler Phillips def. Song Yadong via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
- Askar Askarov def. Joseph Benavidez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26).
- Kai Kara-France def. Rogério Bontorin via 1st-round TKO (4:55).
Early prelims (ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass)
- Tim Elliott def. Jordan Espinosa via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-25).
- Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Carlos Ulberg via 2nd-round KO (3:19).
- Sean Brady def. Jake Matthews via 3rd-round submission (3:28).
- Amanda Lemos def Lívia Renata Souza 1st-round TKO (3:39).
- Uroš Medić def. Aalon Cruz via 1st-round TKO (1:40).
- Trevin Jones def. Mario Bautista via 2nd-round TKO (:47).