Light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz fielded exactly one question during the final press conference for UFC 259, which takes place Saturday in Las Vegas. He sat in silence as his opponent, the flashy and undefeated middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, took at least a dozen inquiries from a mesmerized press corps. If Blachowicz were bothered by the apparent lack of respect, he didn't show it. He has long maintained he intends to earn his recognition in the Octagon, and he will get a chance to show it when the main UFC 259 fight card kicks off at 10 p.m. ET.
Adesanya is a -240 favorite (risk $240 to win $100), while Blachowicz is a +200 underdog in the latest Blachowicz vs. Adesanya odds at William Hill Sportsbook. In the co-main event, two-division champion Amanda Nunes (-1,200) defends her featherweight title against challenger Megan Anderson (+750). Before making any UFC 259 selections of your own, make sure you check out the MMA predictions from SportsLine analyst Kyle Marley.
Marley won the first-ever "ToutMaster" UFC betting contest sponsored by MMAOddsBreaker and appears regularly on multiple MMA betting and daily Fantasy shows. He watches every single fight for every professional MMA card and does extensive research before each event.
Over the past 25 months, $100 bettors who have followed Marley's picks are up more than $21,000. Already in 2021, the accomplished MMA analyst has built on his memorable 2020 run and has now connected on 28 of his last UFC 39 main-event selections, a stretch that includes a streak of five straight underdogs.
Last week at UFC Fight Night, Marley told SportsLine members to back seventh-rated heavyweight prospect Cyril Gane (-265) against third-ranked Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+225) in the main event. Gane controlled the action from the outset and captured a unanimous decision to give Marley's followers another easy winner. Anyone who has consistently followed Marley is way up.
Now, with UFC 259 fast approaching, Marley has carefully studied every matchup on the card, identified the best value in the UFC odds and released his MMA picks for every fight. Those selections are only available here.
Blachowicz vs. Adesanya preview
Marley knows the main event will play a major role in the budding legacy of Adesanya (20-0), who has made no secret of his desire to be considered among the greatest to ever fight in the Octagon. The self-assured former professional kickboxer turned off some observers with his bold predictions for his mixed martial arts career while still just a UFC newcomer.
In fact, just his second fight ended in a razor-thin split decision against Marvin Vettori, who is now the No. 5-ranked contender at light heavyweight. However, it soon became clear his athleticism and striking merited elite status, and he is now listed at No. 3 in the UFC's pound-for-pound rankings behind Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Adesanya won the title with a second-round stoppage of Whittaker and has already defended it twice. Adesanya's last fight resulted in a second-round stoppage of previously undefeated Brazilian beefcake Paulo Costa.
Blachowicz (27-8) was considered a middling contender until his knockout of former champion Luke Rockhold in February 2019 raised his profile. The Polish slugger has since ripped off three more wins, including a victory over the top-ranked and heavily favored Reyes to capture the vacant title.
Various candidates were considered for Blachowicz's first title defense, but the decision was made easy for the UFC brass when Adesanya stated his intent to move up a weight class and seek a second division title. You can see Marley's coveted UFC 259 picks here.
Top UFC 259 predictions
We'll share one of Marley's UFC 259 selections here: He is backing Islam Makhachev (-345) to get a decision victory over Drew Dober (+285) in a battle of lightweight prospects.
Makhachev (18-1), ranked No. 14, is an accomplished wrestler and grappler who trains at the famed American Kickboxing Academy that produced UFC stars like former two-division champion Daniel Cormier and undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. The Russian's style has often been compared to his more famous countryman Nurmagomedov, whose future remains unclear following a second-round submission of top-rated contender Justin Gaethje in October.
The 29-year-old has rolled to six consecutive UFC victories, the latest of which was a decision over Davi Ramos at UFC 242 in September 2019.
Makhachev faces a step up in competition in Dober (23-9-1), who has dropped out of the UFC rankings in the loaded division despite three consecutive victories. The Nebraska native has developed a reputation for lethal striking, and his skills were on display with a second-round stoppage of the rugged Alexander Hernandez in their toe-to-toe slugfest in May of last year.
"Makhachev is basically Khabib Junior. He is one of the best grapplers in the UFC, and I have to pick him for that reason," Marley told SportsLine.
How to make UFC 259 picks
Marley also has strong picks for Blachowicz vs. Adesanya and every other bout on the UFC 259 fight card. He's also backing one fighter who "pushes at a higher pace" to score a shocking upset. Those selections are only available at SportsLine.
Who wins Blachowicz vs. Adesanya? And what underdog is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 259, all from the incomparable expert who's up more than $21,000 on MMA in the past 25 months, and find out.
UFC 259 odds
Israel Adesanya (-240) vs. Jan Blachowicz (+200)
Amanda Nunes (-1,200) vs. Megan Anderson (+750)
Petr Yan (-115) vs. Aljamain Sterling (-105)
Islam Makhachev (-345) vs. Drew Dober (+285)
Aleksandar Rakic (-160) vs. Thiago Santos (+140)
Casey Kenney (-140) vs. Dominick Cruz (+120)
Song Yadong (-140) vs. Kyler Phillips (+120)
Askar Askarov (-130) vs. Joseph Benavidez (+110)
Kai Kara France (-140) vs. Rogerio Bontorin (+120)
Amanda Lemos (-200) vs. Livinha Souza (+175)
Jordan Espinosa (-125) vs. Tim Elliott (+105)
Carlos Ulberg (-220) vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (+190)
Sean Brady (-200) vs. Jake Matthews (+175)
Uros Medic (-165) vs. Aalon Cruz (+145)
Mario Bautista (-220) vs. Trevin Jones (+190)