- Blachowicz 27-8 (8 by KO/TKO)
- Adesanya 20-0 (15 by KO/TKO)
- Blachowicz def Dominick Reyes @ UFC 253 – Rd 2 – TKO
- Adesanya def Paulo Costa @ UFC 253 – Rd 2 – TKO
Analysis: The mercurial, undefeated Israel Adesanya confronts a new challenge at UFC 259, stepping up a weight class to take on Polish powerhouse and UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.
The 20-0 Adesanya has added to his burgeoning legend over the past 18 months by demolishing Robert Whittaker via second-round knockout to win the unified UFC Middleweight Championship at UFC 243. After a yawn-fest decision over Yoel Romero last March, the Kiwi-Nigerian stopped Paulo Costa via Round 2 TKO in September.
The 38-year-old Blachowicz has won eight of his last nine fights. That run culminated in a devastating second-round TKO of Dominick Reyes for the vacant Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 253.
Adesanya will rely on his peerless speed, skill and precision – and avoiding getting tagged by Blachowicz’s unforgiving fists – to pull off becoming just the fifth simultaneous UFC multi-divisional champion. Despite the obvious obstacles, Adesanya is one of the greats and won’t be denied.
- Nunes 20-4 (13 by KO/TKO)
- Anderson 11-4 (6 by KO/TKO)
- Nunes def Felicia Spencer @ UFC 250 – Rd 5 – Unanimous decision
- Anderson def Norma Dumont Viana @ UFC Fight Night – Rd 1 – KO
Analysis: From one potential G.O.A.T. to another, Amanda Nunes defends her UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship – and a six-and-a-half-year unbeaten streak – against Gold Coast product Megan Anderson.
Nunes, who has also defended the UFC Bantamweight Championship four times, won the Featherweight belt with a 51-second knockout of MMA icon Cris Cyborg in December 2018. Here only fight in the division since saw ‘The Lioness’ defeat Felicia Spencer by unanimous decision at UFC 250 in June.
A comparative newcomer to the UFC, Anderson lost to Holly Holm and Spencer during her first year in the promotion after joining in 2018. But since then she has chalked up first-round wins over Zarah Fairn Dos Santos (submission) and Norma Dumont Viana (KO).
Anderson has a significant height and weight advantage over Nunes. She is a powerhouse. But Nunes is the vastly superior all-round fighter and will make it 12 straight victories at UFC 259. Anderson has been a full three rounds just once since 2014 (in a unanimous decision loss to Holm) and will be doing well to last that long against Nunes after more than 12 months out of the Octagon.
- Yan 15-1 (7 by KO/TKO)
- Sterling 19-3 (2 by KO/TKO)
- Yan def Jose Aldo @ UFC 251 – Rd 5 – TKO
- Sterling def Cory Sandhagen @ UFC 250 – Rd 1 – Submission
Analysis: Petr Yan puts his UFC Bantamweight Championship on the line for the first time. The 28-year-old Russian has won 10 straight fights since the only loss of his career back in 2016 (a split decision, no less). Yan is 7-0 with four knockouts since coming into the UFC fold in 2018, culminating in a fifth-round TKO against Jose Aldo at UFC 251 for the vacant belt.
Challenger Aljamain Sterling has been in the UFC ranks since 2014 and is on a five-bout winning streak. He put away the well-credentialled Cory Sandhagen via Round 1 submission – the eighth of his career – at UFC 250 last June. Sterling has made progress as a striker, but his go-to is grappling and he’ll endeavour to get on the canvas with the champ.
Yan’s record is impossible to ignore, however, with his aggression, endurance and versatility providing distinct advantages ahead of this title defence.
Tip: Result – Yan @ $1.87
- Makhachev 18-1 (3 by KO/TKO)
- Dober 23-9 (10 by KO/TKO)
- Makhachev def Davi Ramos @ UFC 242 – Rd 3 – Unanimous decision
- Dober def Alexander Hernandez @ UFC Fight Night – Rd 2 – TKO
Analysis: Two long-serving lightweights get a deserving main card opportunity at UFC 259. Ranked 14th in the stacked division, Islam Makhachev’s only career loss was to Adriano Martins at UFC 192 back in 2015.
Since then, the 29-year-old Russian has chalked up six straight wins – though he has been out of action since September 2019, when he beat Davi Ramos by unanimous decision at UFC 242. Injury and COVID restrictions kept him on the sidelines.
Nebraska’s Drew Dober has won six of his last seven bouts. He received Performance of the Night nods for his 2020 knockouts of Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 246 and Alexander Hernandez at a UFC Fight Night. The 32-year-old has forced pundits to reconsider his journeyman standing – he still has plenty to offer in the lightweight division.
Makhachev relies on takedowns to overcome his opponents, but he’ll have his hands full with Muay Thai southpaw Dober. An upset could be brewing here.
- Santos 21-8 (15 by KO/TKO)
- Rakic 13-2 (9 by KO/TKO)
- Santos lost to Glover Teixeria @ UFC on ESPN – Rd 3 – Submission
- Rakic def Anthony Smith @ UFC Fight Night – Rd 3 – Unanimous decision
Analysis: The main card gets underway with Thiago Santos’ bid to bounce back from consecutive losses. After carving out three straight wins following his jump to the light heavyweight division in 2018, Santos earned a title shot against UFC legend Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, who won the UFC 239 headliner in a split decision.
The 37-year-old Brazilian’s only fight since saw him submit to Glover Teixeira in the third-round of their clash in November.
Alekasndar Rakic boasts a 5-1 (2 KO) record since arriving in the UFC in 2017. After a split decision loss to Volkan Oezdemir in December 2019, the 29-year-old won a unanimous decision against Anthony Smith in a UFC Fight Night headliner in Vegas in July.
Santos is the second-ranked light heavyweight contender behind Teixera, with Dominick Reyes third and Rakic fourth. The winner of this bout will be eyeing off a title shot in the not-too-distant future.
If Santos can remain patient and pick his moments to strike against wrestling specialist Rakic, a return to the winner’s circle beckons.