UFC 259 Preview & Predictions: Blachowicz vs Adesanya
By Cathal Geeney
Jan Blachowicz will defend his UFC light-heavyweight title for the first time against the current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, in what will be the last of three title fights on the night.
Adesanya has looked the complete package in his UFC career to date. Transitioning from a kickboxing background, it is no surprise that his striking has been exceptional. He utilises every bit of his 80-inch range to pick his opponent off at range with an array of punches and kicks. While if you try and negate his reach advantage by rushing him, his movement and counter punches land with speed and precision to devastating effect, as Robert Whittaker found out when they met.
Transitioning from a purely striking sport, his defensive wrestling has been very impressive. He has a takedown defence of 86% and has been in the octagon with some elite wrestlers. The undefeated fighter’s chin has also held up well. Kelvin Gastelum tested this when they met in a five-round war, but the Nigerian-born fighter came through some heavy shots to have his hand raised.
While it is becoming increasingly common to see fighters jump up a weight class, this is generally the case for competitors who look deprived at one class and are stepping up to a weight class with an easier weight cut- McGregor, Cejudo, Nunes, Cormier.
Unlike these fighters, Adesanya does not seem to experience the same struggle when making weight at his current weight class. He even weighed in a pound under the weight limit in his last title defence. So, it is very interesting to see how he’s going to look at light-heavyweight, if he will carry extra power or if he will struggle against a bigger man.
While Adesanya is arguably the superior Martial Artist, Blachowicz still has plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The thirty-eight-year-old is a natural 205-pounder and has fought at this weight his entire career.
The Polish fighter possesses knockout power with both his fists and his kicks, and he will feel that he can get the stoppage. He will aim to come forward and follow up his jab with big hooks as well as looking to powerful body kicks. Like Israel, Jan likes to switch stances which keeps his opponent guessing.
The former KSW light-heavyweight champion has not tried to hide the fact that he feels he will hold the wrestling advantage in the Octagon on Saturday night. Jan may look to clinch up, tire his opponent and land a takedown in order to work towards a submission. It is worth noting that Blachowicz is a BJJ black belt and holds nine careers victories by submission. The grappling attempts from Jan and defence from Adesanya may become a big narrative of this showdown.
Both men are accomplished strikers, Jan should have the advantage in power while Israel will be faster with a greater range of movement. Adesanya will look to constantly be on the move and make Jan look slow and stiff, while all the time picking him off with a selection of shots. Adesanya remains a puzzle that has yet to be solved, so how Jan manages to close the distance without leaving himself open to a counter will be very interesting to see.
Jan, he will look to stay composed in there. He may not get the better of the early exchanges, but he will have the advantage that he can rely on both his powerful striking and his grappling to work towards a victory.
This is a tricky one to predict but Blachowicz is constantly being underestimated. He has been victorious in nine of his last ten outings and yet has been the betting underdog in nine of these fights. I am taking the reigning champion to surprise everyone once again and retain his light-heavyweight title in a highly entertaining bout. #UFC259