Jan Blachowicz defended his UFC light heavyweight title with a unanimous decision over previously undefeated Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 on Saturday night, foiling Adesanya’s attempt to hold two championship belts simultaneously.
Aljamain Sterling also won the UFC bantamweight title when Petr Yan was disqualified for an illegal knee strike in the fourth round. Two-division champion Nunes then defended her featherweight belt with ease, beating Megan Anderson by submission 2:03 in the first round at the Apex Gym on the UFC corporate campus.
Blachowicz, 38 (28-8), made his first title defense after resisting an impressive start from Adesanya (20-1), the fearsome middleweight champion advancing for a shot in history. The Polish champion turned his fight around with two big knockdowns and subsequent ground control in the fourth and fifth rounds.
Blachowicz finished the fight in full power while throwing punches on Adesanya, who had never lost in a mixed martial arts career that began in 2012. Adesanya, the charismatic Nigerian-born New Zealander, was unable to join Amanda Nunes, Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier. and Henry Cejudo as the only simultaneous UFC two-belt champions.
Adesanya was the sharpest and most aggressive striker in the early rounds, but Blachowicz survived the attack and ultimately implemented his game plan. Blachowicz turned the fight around in the fourth round with an impressive takedown and solid fieldwork, nearly forcing the judges to go round.
He dropped Adesanya again in the middle of the fifth before ending the fight in a dominant position. Blachowicz joyfully celebrated the latest victory in a late career surge for a fighter who won his title last September after six years in the UFC and 13 years as a professional.
The long-awaited list of three title fights at UFC 259 got off to a strange start when Yan’s inexplicable rule violation handed Sterling the 135-pound title.
The fight was stopped with 31 seconds left in the quarter when Yan slammed his knee into the face of Sterling, who was kneeling on the mat in front of him.
Mixed martial arts rules strictly prohibit such strikes to a downed opponent, and the knee clearly hurt Sterling, who struggled and was unable to get up for several minutes. The fight was called off by referee Mark Smith, who had verbally warned Yan not to launch such an attack seconds earlier.
Sterling (20-3) looked disoriented and disappointed when he wrapped the belt around his waist after a fight he appeared to be losing to Yan (15-2). Sterling tossed the belt onto the canvas before leaving the Octagon.
“Everything I worked for up to this point, and that the fight was like this …” Sterling said with teary eyes afterwards. “I thought the fight was very close. I thought I had lost two rounds. That is not the way I wanted to win. That is not the way I envisioned this. I just took off my belt, man. I was trying to continue, but it was in bad shape.
Nunes (21-4) handled his second featherweight title defense in his usual style, doing short work with his Australian challenger and extending his winning streak to 12 fights since 2014.
After mowing down Anderson (11-5) with strikes, Nunes jumped on his unbalanced opponent and worked his way into a triangle arm, forcing Anderson to tap quickly.
The fight was Nunes’ first since his wife, fellow UFC fighter Nina Ansaroff, gave birth to their first child. Nunes has been the UFC bantamweight champion since 2016, adding the featherweight belt in late 2018.
Yan put on a masterful performance for three rounds in the first defense of his 135-pound belt, weathering his opponent’s strong start to high intensity before imposing his physical will from the third round onward.
Yan appeared to take control of the fight in the third round and early fourth against his grueling challenger, but his blatantly illegal strike forced officials to make the ugly decision to award a title by disqualification.
Sterling earned his title shot with five straight wins in the past three years. The athletic and creative fighting style of the Long Island native – his nickname is Funk Master – has made him a popular choice as a future UFC champion for several years.
But Sterling was beaten to the belt by Yan, who won the title vacated by Henry Cejudo by knocking out Jose Aldo last July. The victory marked the Siberian powerhouse’s 7-0 streak since joining the UFC nearly three years ago.
Previously, former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz beat Casey Kenney by split decision for his first win since June 2016. Cruz, who turns 36 on Tuesday, saw his rising career derailed long ago by brutal injury problems, but the San Diego native persevered against a similar team. exhausted Kenney to win in just his sixth MMA fight since October 2011.
Three-time flyweight title contender Joseph Benavidez also suffered his third straight loss in a one-sided decision win for Russian Askar Askarov, who lost weight for the fight.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism