UFC 259: The Best Analysis You'll Find
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
UFC 259 is one of the best cards on paper this year. An event that has something for everyone. Even if you are new to the sport, the drama these fights bring to the table will keep you engaged from start to finish. An action-packed night consisting of 3 title fights, 4 champions, and the greatest female fighter of all time. We will witness a dynamic striking artist trying to go further down his path to MMA greatness as he attempts to be the 8th person in the promotion to hold a title across two divisions as well as becoming the 5th to hold two simultaneously. The first Polish male UFC champion trying to defend his title for the first time to prove to people that they need to stop sleeping on him. We can not forget about the bantamweight title fight between a Siberian virtuoso and a young hungry grappler; who's rounded out his skills and took a tough journey in the UFC to earn his shot. Plus an undercard filled to the brim with top 15 contenders trying to prove they're up next for a title shot. With the rest being promising young talent who hope to make a name for themselves. I'm so excited about this card!
Adesanya vs Blachowicz
Let's start with the main event, Israel Adesanya vs Jan Blachowicz. A light heavyweight title fight between the current 185 pound champ Adesanya with Jan trying to make his first defense at 205. If you're a fan of any type of combat sports then you know Israel might be one of the most electric fighters to watch right now. A true savant in technique and the art of striking. His footwork, feints, set-ups, traps, rhythm manipulation, head movement, variety in strikes, and shot selection are from another planet. Israel is on the cutting edge of striking in MMA right now. He's no slouch in the grappling department either. He recently received his purple belt in jujitsu from BJJ legend Andre Galvao. Has shown great takedown defense in his fights with Yoel Romero and Derek Brunson, an urgency to get up from bottom, and fantastic submission attempts in the Kelvin Gaestelum fight. Israel has been talking the talk and walking the walk by putting in the work to become the #1 pound-for-pound fighter. He has a tough task ahead of him in Blachowicz. Jan has had an inspiring path to become champion. He got most of his experience in major polish promotion in KSW becoming champ there and was signed to the UFC in 2015. He started 1-4 in the UFC and has turned it around since then, winning 8 of his 9 last fights. A prime example why losses shouldn't define fighters. Jan is an incredibly well-rounded fighter with tons of experience plus size and toughness. He is a great kickboxer with short simple combos that allows for awkward striking angles. Another advantage would be his competent grappling along with the fight IQ. This allows him to change the dynamic of the fight in the blink of an eye. One thing I love about this fight is that Jan has always been the underdog but don't let that fool you. He does his best work when the odds are against him. In his 15 fights with the UFC, he's been the underdog 9 times. Jan also has fought many middleweights who have come up to 205. A knock-out win over former UFC champ Luke Rockhold, a dominant performance against former Strikeforce champ Jacare Souza, and again when he beat top 5 185lb contender Jared Canonier. I think Jan is more than confident and comfortable in the position he's in right now.
Another Interesting tidbit about this fight would have to be Israel's comments in recent interviews. Israel talks about how when he goes up in weight classes he doesn't plan to put on extra weight in order to keep his speed and precision to his liking. It will be interesting to see who it favors, the striking of Adesanya or the size and grappling skills of Blachowicz. I think this is a lot closer of a fight than the odd makers give credit for.
I'll tell you what though. The UFC is rooting for Israel. With Khabib retiring and Conor losing some stock in his latest loss, the UFC will be accepting applications for new superstars. Adesanya definitely fits the mold. They're banking for Izzy to win Jon Jones's former title and Jon to claim the heavyweight belt. A heavyweight title fight between Jon and Israel (newly formed rivals) with a chance at Izzy to become the first person to hold 3 titles across divisions would be one of the biggest fights in UFC history. Huge stakes in the main event this weekend!
Nunes vs Anderson
Next up is the co-main event Amanda Nunes vs Megan Anderson. I don't know if there is a lot to say about this fight. Amanda is locked for the greatest female fighter of all time with wins over every champion at 135lbs and 145lbs plus two wins over current 125lb queen Valentina Shevchenko. I feel she has beaten the game a bit. She has cleaned out her toughest opponents by knocking out Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm, while also beating Germaine de Randamie twice. Now she seems to be getting showcase fights like Felicia Spencer and Raquel Pennington. Just collecting fat checks until her divisions find a new contender. Love to see it. With all that being said there are ways for Megan Anderson to win this fight and women's MMA has had some of the biggest upsets in the sport's exciting history.
Megan has the size, length, and power in her striking to make this interesting. She gave Holly Holm, a great striker herself, a ton of problems on the feet in their fight. Then Holly exploited some of the holes in Megan's grappling and controlled the rest of the fight. The same holes were also shown in her fight with Felicia Spencer. I feel Amanda knows the blueprint on how to beat her. Megan does train under James Krause who's a fantastic coach with tons of experience. Krause will have to come up with a competent game-plan in order for Megan to pull off this upset. Best of luck to Megan this weekend. Keep in mind the women's 145lb division will be in a tough spot no matter who wins. It was made for former champ Cris Cyborg at the start of 2018 and it hasn't bloomed like the UFC had hoped. 3 years since its creation, the UFC doesn't have enough contenders to fill a top 15 on their website. It's tough because I think Amanda prefers her performance without the weight cut, but I don't think the division will have enough depth for the UFC to keep it going.
Yan vs Sterling
Next up might be my favorite fight on the card. Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling for the 135lb strap. What a fight this is. Yan is a mean Siberian pressure fighter who can do it all against Sterling, a high level grappler with a karate-esque style of striking. Yan made his name when he became the 135lb champ in ACA, a Russian promotion that is an absolute shark tank filled with all of the Dagestani, Chechen, and the rest of the Russian talent in MMA right now. There isn't another promotion that will get you ready for the level of competition in the UFC like ACA. Yan absolutely dominated there, going 6-1 with his sole loss being a razor thin split decision. He was signed to the UFC in 2018 and the domination continued into his new promotion, currently 7-0 with wins over UFC veterans like John Dodson, Jimmie Rivera, his absolute big brothering performance over Urijah Faber, and his most recent win being the drowning of an all-time great in Jose Aldo. Yan is a tall task anywhere you want to take the fight. The man does his homework and all the extra credit.
He'll fly to Dagestan just to keep his grappling sharp. Became one of the best fighters to come out of the Thailand super camp. He dabbles with Tiger Muay Thai striking with authentic Thai boxers and swims in cold Siberian lakes to keep his cardio and mental strength on point. Can fight in either stance making his opponent play the guessing game.
Can't forget about the clinch game that'll make you think he's a 200 fight Thai boxing veteran. This man acquires an overall meanness and brutality to his game that cannot be taught. A true nightmare to be matched up against.
Aljamain is no pushover though and will be Yan's biggest test so far. A pupil of Long Island's Ray Longo and former UFC champ Matt Sera, who's taught Aljo his unique and dominant submission game. Aljamain has had a UFC career that would break most fighters. Fighting killer after killer since 2014. Has so many great wins over division veterans like his rare arm-triangle from the bottom on Takeya Mizugaki, former champ Renan Barao, his unique knee-bar from the back on Cody Stamann, top 8 contender Pedro Munhoz, and lastly his ninety-second rear-naked choke over current #2 contender Cory Sandhagen, who is mostly next in line for the winner of this fight. Aljo has a high level of wrestling and jiu jitsu along with top pressure that makes you feel like you're trapped under a building. Ray Longo has improved his stand up leaps and bounds since he debuted. Aljo's shown great footwork and pivots, high variety of front and side kicks, low kicks, spin kicks to the head and body, plus great distance management which he'll need to use on Yan. I think his best path to win is to get him down, create scrambles and to try to find an opening there. It's going to be a lot of fun when we see these boys grapple. Potentially, to be filled with great take down defense, balance, scrambles, sweeps, and submission attempts. It's going to look like two cats in a pillow case. I think this will be a battle of attrition that's going to come down in the championship rounds with whoever has the better cardio and stronger mind coming out on top.
Makhachev vs Dober
Next up is Islam Makhachev vs Drew Dober. This fight is a testament to how deep 155lbs is. Islam is being hyped as the next champion by a lot of high level fighters and coaches he's trained with. One of them being his long time friend and training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov. Khabib has said a few times that part of the reason he retired from the sport is that he believes he'll be champion soon. When you watch Islam you'll understand why. He holds a record of 18-1 (7-1 in the UFC) and has shown nothing but pure dominance recently. His grappling is very similar to Khabib. He has relentless chain wrestling and an incredible ability of finding his opponents in bad places through weight distribution. His striking has improved dramatically as well; seen when he knocked out Gleison Tibau and his dominant decision over jujitsu legend Davi Ramos. This will be Islam's coming out party if he dominates like people expect him to & will easily get fast tracked to someone in the top 7 or 8 in the division.
Don't get it twisted; Drew Dober is a live dog. Coming out of the highly regarded Elevation fight team in Colorado under coach Trevor Wittman. Drew has the skills on the feet and the power to ruin this party for Islam. Drew is training in a shark tank with guys like Kamaru Usman and Justin Gaejthe. Dober has 16 fights in the UFC with him winning 6 of his last 7 fights and coming off 3 knockouts in a row. Including his upset of Nasrat Haqparast, Alexander Hernandez, and action fighter Marco Polo-Reyes. Islam does not want to keep this on the feet with Drew or this could be a very real upset. It honestly wouldn't be a bad idea to throw a couple of dollars on Dober by knockout.
Santos vs Rakic
The UFC loves to open their PPVs with action fights. Thiago Santos vs Aleksandar Rakic is the definition of an action fight. This is a fight between #3 and #4 in the 205lb division and the winner of this bout has a very real possibility of facing the winner of the main event. Thiago Santos is must see TV. He has a highlight reel of knockouts in the UFC with everything from head kicks, wheel kicks, body kicks, and punches. He's the only man to take Jon Jones to a split decision in a fight where he showcased his low kicks and mental strength, tearing both of his knees apart and still maintaining to take it to a contested decision, which many people felt he won that fight. He has wins over other beasts and fellow knockout artists like Jimi Manuwa, Anthony Smith, top contenders like Jack Hermansson, Nate Marquardt, Kevin Holland, and the only man to knock out the main event fighter and the current champ, Jan Blachowicz. His fight with Jimi Manuwa was an all-time great slugfest that ended in a dramatic KO.
Rakic is the perfect dance partner for Thiago. Rakic is a Serbian striker who has a 5-1 record in the UFC with his only loss being a split decision loss to Volkan Ozedmir, which many fans thought the Judges got wrong. His head kick KO over Jimi Manuwa is one of the most brutal in recent memory. Rakic has shown that he has a complete set of skills and intelligence when he brutalized Anthony Smith with leg kicks and took him down at will. Rakic has yet to have a real standout performance, so he'll be looking to show the division he's up next. I think this is my pick for fight of the night.
Stacked Preliminary Rounds
It wouldn't be a bad idea to tune in early on this card, the prelims are absolutely stacked to the gills with promising talent. Trevin Jones making his return after one of the best comeback victories of 2020, when he knocked a highly touted prospect Timur Valiev on ONE DAYS NOTICE. A fellow Serbian kickboxer Uros Medic is finally making his UFC debut after a brutal body kick KO on Dana White's Contender Series. The Brazilian muay Thai specialist Amanda Lemos returns after an absolute clinic against Mizuki Inoue. 13-0 Philadelphian welterweight Sean Brady looks to add another win to his record when he fights Australian veteran Jake Matthews in a bout where we will see who's going to be the new hot prospect at 170lbs. The much anticipated debut of New Zealand's Carlos Ulberg, who's a main training partner of Israel Adesanya & has looked like someone who's been sharpening their skills with the current 185lb champ. A flyweight bout between scrappy contenders; Tim Elliot and Jordan Espinosa. Another flyweight bout between Brazilian Rogerio Bontorin & New Zealand's Kai Kara-France. Yet another flyweight bout between two of the top 3 contenders in the division which are Joseph Benavidez and Russian Askar Askarov. A 135lb fight between the slick American striker Kyler Phillips and the Chinese knockout artist Yadong Song. Headlining the ESPN prelims, one of my favorite fighters ever, 135lb great Dominick Cruz looks to bounce back from his title loss to Henry Cejudo against the young prospect Casey Kenney. It's so rare to mention all eight fights on the prelims but the matchmakers did a bang out job putting this whole card together. I think the prelims will be filled with finishes and fun competitive fights. Supercards like this are why we love the UFC, so link up with some friends, get the essentials, and tune in early because it's going to be a fantastic night of action. Enjoy the fights this weekend!