The UFC returns Saturday night with one of its most stacked cards in recent memory: four champions competing in three title fights at UFC 259 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Headlining the pay-per-view will be middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who will take a shot at becoming a two-division champion when he faces light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.
Adesanya (20-0) has been on a torrid run since debuting in the UFC in 2018. He has gone 9-0, with four of those victories coming by way of stoppage. Along the way, he has ousted the likes of Anderson Silva, Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum. He defended his middleweight title in dominant fashion against the previously unbeaten Paulo Costa at UFC 253 with a second-round TKO.
Blachowicz claimed the vacant 205-pound title with a one-sided knockout of Dominick Reyes in the co-main event of UFC 253. But his journey to that point was far from smooth. The Polish fighter debuted in 2014 with a knockout of Ilir Latifi but then lost four of his next five fights. A four-fight winning streak followed; in it were impressive victories over Nikita Krylov and Jared Cannonier. But a knockout loss to Thiago Santos set him back again. Since that loss, he has won four more in a row, with victories over Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Corey Anderson and Reyes.
Can Blachowicz prove that he’s more than a transitional champion, or will Adesanya take his place on the 205-pound throne as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world?
The co-main event has the greatest women’s fighter of all time defending one of her titles. Amanda Nunes will be challenged by Megan Anderson for the UFC featherweight championship. Nunes has been an unstoppable force over the past six years with an 11-fight winning streak. She has trounced Cris “Cyborg” Justino, Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm and Miesha Tate in her quest to become the featherweight and bantamweight champion. Only Valentina Shevchenko, the reigning UFC women’s flyweight champion, has provided any resistance.
Anderson hopes to pull off the major upset. The former Invicta FC featherweight champion has gone 3-2 during her UFC run but has a combination of power and skill that could present a problem for Nunes.
Petr Yan will defend the UFC bantamweight title against top contender Aljamain Sterling in the third title fight on the card. Yan has yet to taste defeat inside the UFC Octagon. He won the vacant title last July by stopping Jose Aldo in the fifth round. He’ll make his first defense against Sterling, who has long been recognized as one of the best young talents in the division. He has strung together five wins in a row to finally earn a crack at the title, and his 90-second submission of Cory Sandhagen highlighted just how much of a force his grappling can be.
UFC 259 live updates, highlights from Israel Adesanya vs. Jan Blachowicz
10:01 p.m.: Dominick Cruz finds himself back to 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. And 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 out of the first seven fights ended inside the distance while Tim Elliott’s dominant decision over Jordan Espinoza included a segment in the fight where Elliott accused his opponent of domestic abuse 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 (c) vs. Israel Adesanya for Błachowicz’s light heavyweight title
- Amanda Nunes (c) vs. Megan Anderson for Nunes’ women’s featherweight title
- Petr Yan (c) vs. Aljamain Sterling for Yan’s bantamweight title
- Islam Makhachev vs. Drew Dober; lightweights
- Thiago Santos vs. Aleksandar Rakić; light heavyweights
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).
Original source here
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