Someone forgot to tell Jan
Blachowicz he was supposed to be a footnote on Israel
Adesanya’s unabated march to history.
“The Pride of Poland” waded through considerable difficulty, hit
his stride through takedowns and positional control, thumbed his
nose at the skeptics and retained the undisputed
Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight crown with a
unanimous decision over reigning middleweight champion Israel
Adesanya in the
UFC 259 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Scores were 49-46, 49-45 and 49-45.
Blachowicz outlanded “The Last Stylebender” by narrow margins in
the first three rounds, more than holding his own with a man who
was thought to be a vastly superior technician on the feet. The
38-year-old Pole spent the final 10 minutes exploiting one of the
few holes that still exist in Adesanya’s game, as he executed
takedowns, advanced to dominant positions and applied his
ground-and-pound. Blachowicz connected with 115 total strikes in
the fourth and fifth rounds, absorbing only 31 in return.
In the aftermath of UFC 259 “Blachowicz vs. Adesanya,” here are
five matches that ought to be made:
Blachowicz vs. Glover
Teixeira: Blachowicz finds himself in the unenviable
position of following in the footsteps of an all-time great who
never lost his title in the cage. Indeed, the shadow of Jon Jones
still looms large over the 205-pound weight class. No one can say
for certain how Blachowicz would have fared against the former
champion, but with Jones having relocated to the heavyweight
division, his successor has begun the process of carving out a
strong legacy of his own. Turning away Adesanya’s bid to become a
simultaneous two-division titleholder represents a significant
piece of the puzzle. Now, Teixeira lurks. One a five-fight winning
streak, the ageless Brazilian has not fought since he submitted
Santos—ironically, the last man to defeat Blachowicz—with a
rear-naked choke in the UFC on ESPN 17 main event in November.
Nunes vs. Julianna
Pena or Valentina
Andrade winner: The UFC has a conundrum on its hands.
Nunes retained the women’s featherweight championship with a
woefully one-sided rout of Megan
Anderson in the co-headliner, as she dismissed the Aussie with
a triangle armbar a little more than two minutes into their
encounter. Anderson conceded defeat 2:03 into Round 1. Nunes has so
thoroughly dominated two weight classes that there are no obvious
viable challenges left for her to meet. That could change if Pena
manages to beat Holly Holm at
UFC Fight Night 191 on May 8. However, should Holm emerge
victorious, the UFC may need to entice the Shevchenko-Andrade
winner to step up in weight after their April 24 showdown for the
flyweight title at UFC 261.
Sterling vs. Petr
Yan: A stunning lack of discipline from one of the
sport’s most disciplined fighters resulted in the bantamweight
championship changing hands, as Yan was disqualified for a blatant
illegal knee against Sterling in the fourth round of their
co-feature. The concussed Sterling—who led on one of the three
scorecards at the time of the foul—was unable to continue 4:29 into
Round 4. An immediate rematch seems like a no-brainer.
Makhachev vs. Tony
Ferguson: A potential heir apparent to
American Kickboxing Academy stablemate Khabib
Nurmagomedov, Makhachev flexed his world-class skills and
systematically dismantled Drew Dober
before submitting him with a third-round arm-triangle choke from
half guard in their lightweight showcase. Dober raised the white
flag 1:37 into Round 3, having been thoroughly outclassed by one of
the sport’s emerging stars at 155 pounds. Makhachev, 29, has
rattled off seven straight wins since his surprising knockout loss
Martins in 2015, improving to 8-1 in the UFC and 17-1 overall.
He has the look of a future title contender. Ferguson finds himself
on a two-fight losing streak for the first time in his stellar
30-fight career. The 37-year-old Californian last fought at UFC
256, where he dropped a unanimous decision to the ascendant
Oliveira on Dec. 12.
Rakic vs. Magomed
Ankalaev: Due the tepid nature of his approach, Rakic
appears to have done little to raise his stock with a unanimous
decision over the aforementioned Santos in the main card opener.
Scores were 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27. Rakic, 29, steered clear of
danger and kept the Brazilian at bay with repeated leg kicks, a
strong jab and a vigorous clinch game. The Austrian contender has
won 14 of his past 15 bouts and cemented himself as one of the
UFC’s 10 best light heavyweights. Nevertheless, his lack of urgency
could prove problematic when it comes to securing the blockbuster
opportunities he desires. Ankalaev extended his run of consecutive
victories to six with a unanimous decision over Nikita
Krylov in the UFC Fight Night 186 co-main event on Feb. 27.