Three title fights deliver must-see moments at UFC 259
Updated: May 22, 2021
In terms of shock value, the UFC’s most anticipated pay-per-view of the year thus far did not disappoint.
Four champions headlined a loaded card, but only one belt changed hands – and that’s where we’ll begin.
Yan disqualification makes Sterling the new champ
After an illegal knee strike to a downed Aljamain Sterling (20-3) in round four, incumbent champion Petr Yan (15-2) lost his Bantamweight title in very controversial fashion.
The knee was brutal to watch, resulting in Sterling struggling to gain his whereabouts for the several minutes it took prior to the referee’s decision.
After deliberating, it was confirmed Yan would be disqualified because referee Mark Smith announced his opponent was down prior to the strike, deeming it intentional.
While some may admonish earning a title this way, an even worse offense is being the champion and not aware of when not to strike someone square in the head. Truthfully, we were all robbed of a proper finish to what was an all but decided bout in championship rounds.
However, Sterling is officially the new Bantamweight champion, extending his winning streak to six in the process.
He looked good at times in the fight, at other times he appeared a little in-over-his-head. Striking at a blistering rate it appeared imminent that he would gas out and Yan would pick his shots, but the fight never reached that point so who’s to say.
Petr “No Mercy” Yan is expected to get his rematch, “as soon as possible” per UFC President Dana White, so this feud remains unfinished.
Fighters throughout the entire company chimed in on the results of this fight, making the potential rematch one of the most must-see fights of the foreseeable future.
Nunes adds another flawless effort to her resumé
Simply put, the greatest female fighter in the history of the sport, Amanda Nunes (21-4), dominated Megan Anderson (11-5) en route to an armbar submission in only two minutes.
Nunes is in the midst of one of the greatest runs any fighter has had in this sport.
She hasn’t lost since 2015 and has now won her ninth straight title fight. Even with her holding belts in two divisions, there’s still no challengers on the horizon.
The future for Anderson is unclear, but there will always be room for a dangerous striker that stands six-foot-tall in any women’s division.
Unfortunately, she ran into the buzzsaw that is the Lioness. After being hit with a few significant strikes, her composure was visibly lost. That was the beginning of the end and it didn’t take long from that point.
We’ve seen Nunes evolve into a fighter with no weaknesses. On the feet or on the mat, she’s advanced and capable.
Not to mention, mentally, she’s on another level.
It’s a joy to watch every time she steps foot in the octagon and while Nunes’ legacy is still unfinished, it’s ascending at a meteoric rate.
Blachowicz retains, handing Adesanya his first career loss
Rarely will you find a champion versus champion main event anywhere but the lede, but that is indicative of the way this card played out.
The excitement for Israel Adesanya (20-1) to become the promotion’s newest double champ ahead of this fight was palpable, accentuated by a potential dream match between him and Jon Jones (26-1) on the horizon.
Enter Jan Blachowicz (28-8), the Polish champion with lights-out power, who crushed all those fantasies. In his first title defense, he became the first man to beat Stylebender, winning via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45).
There was slight uncertainty heading into the judges’ decision, but deep down, even the hardest Adesanya supporters would have to concede he didn’t do enough to win this fight.
More unbiased viewers might say that it wasn’t even close, especially coming off two dominant championship rounds from Blachowicz. Just when it appeared Izzy may be gaining confidence, his veteran opponent countered with crushing takedowns combining for seven minutes of total control.
Factor in that Adesanya may have lost a point on the scorecards thanks to repeated low kicks, and it was clear that the champion had this fight in control.
Adesanya may have bit off more than he can chew, opting to not put on any weight while trying to jump 20 pounds. That decision ultimately was his downfall as he was overwhelmed under the burly Blachowicz to the fight’s finish.
He stated after the fight that this light heavyweight appearance wouldn’t be a one-off, but his veil of invincibility is gone following this defeat.
Middleweight contenders will be lining up to take on Adesanya and knock him off the pedestal that he built for himself.
The fight was short on fireworks, but nothing should be taken away from the champion’s victory over one of the most promising young fighters in recent memory.
Blachowicz’s career renaissance is at full strength.
As for what’s next, the best matchup that exists is with none other than Jon ‘Bones’ Jones. The champion that never lost his title presents the best case for knocking off the current champ. If he doesn’t jump to heavyweight, fans would love to see this matchup later in the year.