UFC 259 takes place Saturday from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas and is topped with a trio of title fights featuring some of the best fighters in the world. Sitting atop the 15-fight card is a superfight between light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz and middleweight champ Israel Adesanya with Blachowicz's title on the line.
The co-main event will mark the return of two-division champion and consensus greatest woman in mixed martial arts history when Amanda Nunes looks to defend her featherweight title against Megan Anderson. It will be just Nunes' second fight in 15 months because of minor injuries, COVID-19 protocols and the birth of her first child with fellow fighter Nina Ansaroff. She remains as dominant as ever with seven stoppage victories amid her current 10-fight winning streak over a who's who of challengers. Across the cage will be the first opponent to own a height advantage over Nunes in Anderson, who stands 6-feet tall and has three stoppage wins in UFC.
But beyond the three championship bouts lies so many intriguing and important fights for the promotion to determine rankings and potential future title contenders. Because of that, we took the time to look into each matchup on this loaded card and give you some in-depth analysis of what to expect when each steps inside the cage. Let's take a closer look with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook.
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Mario Bautista vs. Trevin Jones, bantamweights
- Odds: Bautista -230, Jones +190
- Last three results: Bautista - W,W,L | Jones - NC,W,W
After suffering his first professional loss in his UFC debut when he was submitted by Cory Sandhagen, Bautista (8-1) has rebounded with back-to-back victories inside the Octagon. In his most recent fight, Bautista scored a flying-knee knockout of Miles Johns. Jones (12-6) made a spectacular Octagon debut this past August, scoring one of the most dramatic comeback victories in UFC history by knocking out Timur Valiev after nearly being finished many times in the opening round. Unfortunately, Jones was the victim of outdated Nevada State Athletic Commission rules, which overturned his win to a no contest after a positive test for marijuana. Jones has seen the judges' scorecards 11 times in his career, while only two of Bautista's nine fights have gone the distance.
Uros Medic vs. Aalon Cruz, lightweights
- Odds: Medic -170, Cruz +145
- Last three results: Medic - W,W,W (making UFC debut) | Cruz - L,W,W
Only one man in Medic's young career has been able to survive the first round, and he lasted less than one minute into the second round. The impressive rise of Medic (6-0) led to an opportunity on Dana White's Contender Series, where he scored a first-round TKO to secure an opportunity in the UFC. Medic has finished four opponents by knockout with two submission wins also on his resume. Cruz (8-3) also used the Contender Series to earn an Octagon opportunity, scoring a late third-round flying knee knockout on the show. His UFC debut did not go his way, however, with Spike Carlyle stopping Cruz via strikes less than 90 seconds into the fight. Cruz has an even split of finish and decision wins in his career, but has been stopped in all three of his career defeats.
Amanda Lemos vs. Livia Renata Souza, women's strawweights
- Odds: Lemos -230, Souza +190
- Last three results: Lemos - W,W,L | Souza - W,L,W
Lemos (8-1-1) entered the UFC as a bantamweight but made the drop to strawweight after losing her UFC debut by TKO to Leslie Smith. The move has paid off so far, with Lemos scoring back-to-back victories, but also came after a two-year suspension from a positive test for a banned substance in 2017. Souza (14-2) is a former Invicta FC strawweight champion, winning the title in 2015 and successfully defending the belt once before losing it via split decision to Angela Hill. The loss to Hill was the first of Souza's career and she rebounded with a four-fight winning streak, with two of those wins coming in the UFC. Souza is coming off a victory over Ashley Yoder in her first fight since having that winning streak snapped.
Sean Brady vs. Jake Matthews, welterweights
- Odds: Brady -210, Matthews +175
- Last three results: Brady - W,W,W | Matthews - W,W,W
After a successful run on the regional scene, which included capturing the CFFC welterweight title and successfully defending it twice, Brady (13-0) landed in the UFC where he has continued his undefeated run with three victories inside the Octagon. Brady was set for a huge step up in competition in December when he was booked for a fight with Belal Muhammad, but he was forced to withdraw after suffering a broken nose. Now, Brady faces another longtime UFC veteran in Matthews (17-4). Matthews debuted in the UFC in 2014 and has gone 10-4 in the promotion, including a current three-fight winning streak. Another win would give Matthews his longest winning streak during his time in the UFC.
Carlos Ulberg vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu, light heavyweights
- Odds: Ulberg -240, Nzechukwu +200
- Last three results: Ulberg - W,W,W (making UFC debut) | Nzechukwu - W,L,W
Ulberg (3-0) enters the UFC after a successful tryout on Dana White's Contender Series, which saw him score an early knockout. He comes from an unusual background of having been a reality TV star in New Zealand, appearing on "Game of Bros" and twice being offered a spot as the lead on the country's version of "The Bachelor." Good looks aside, Ulberg is an accomplished striker and trains at City Kickboxing, which has turned out some of the biggest stars in the sport, including current UFC champions Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski. Nzechukwu also earned his shot at the UFC with a first-round knockout on the Contender Series, but suffered a triangle choke defeat in his UFC debut, the first loss of his career. He rebounded in his most recent fight with a decision win over Darko Stosic, but has not fought since August 2019.
Jordan Espinosa vs. Tim Elliott, flyweights
- Odds: Espinosa -120, Elliott +100
- Last three results: Espinosa - L,W,L | Elliott - W,L,L
Espinosa (15-8) and Elliott (16-11-1) have very similar career resumes. Both men come from a wrestling background and have a both won and lost many times via submission. Espinosa has won by submission seven times and lost four. Similarly, Elliott has six submission wins and five losses. Both men are also 1-3 in their four most recent outings, both with two submission losses in the stretch, making this a very important fight to not only establish positioning in the flyweight division, but to not be at risk of being let go from the promotion. Elliott has had a chance to become UFC champion in the past, having been brought back to compete on The Ultimate Fighter after a failed first run in the UFC. After winning the show, Elliott was given a fight with then-champ Demetrious Johnson, losing a unanimous decision.
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Kai Kara-France vs. Rogerio Bontorin, flyweights
- Odds: Kara-France -135, Bontorin +115
- Last three results: Kara-France - L,W,L | Bonotorin - L,W,W
Kara-France (21-9) battled to a position near the top of flyweight division, but hit a 1-2 stretch in his three most recent fights. That came after an eight-fight winning streak that saw Kara-France emerge as a potential flyweight title contender. Bontorin (16-2) appeared on Dana White's Contender Series Brazil with a 14-1 record and earned a spot on the UFC roster by picking up a second-round submission win. After picking up two victories in the Octagon, Bontorin suffered his first UFC loss when he came up on the short side of a decision against former title challenger Ray Borg.
Askar Askarov vs. Joesph Benavidez, flyweights
- Odds: Askarov -125, Benavidez +105
- Last three results: Askarov - W,W,D | Benavidez - L,L,W
The third flyweight fight on the card features Benavidez (28-7), a four-time UFC title challenger, taking on undefeated Askarov (12-0-1). Benavidez is coming off back-to-back losses to Deiveson Figueiredo, both for the then-vacant UFC flyweight championship. In addition to losing four times while trying to become UFC champion, Benavidez also lost a shot at the WEC bantamweight title in 2010. In all, five of his seven career losses have come in fights for the biggest prizes in the sport. Askarov picked up the first blemish on his professional record in his UFC debut, battling Brandon Moreno to a draw in a result that looks more impressive after Moreno's elevation to title contender and subsequent draw with Figueiredo. Askarov rebounded from the draw with two decision wins. The three decision results are the only times in Askarov's career where he has seen the judges' scorecards.
Song Yadong vs. Kyler Phillips, bantamweights
- Odds: Yadong -160, Phillips +135
- Last three results: Yadong - W,D,W | Phillips -W,W,W
Yadong (16-4-1) has impressed since making his UFC debut in 2017, going 5-0-1 in the promotion. Yadong's majority draw with Cody Stamann would have been a victory had he not been deducted a point during the bout for an illegal knee. His current nine-fight unbeaten streak is the most successful stretch in a career that began in May 2013. Phillips (8-1) has had less experience in the UFC Octagon, but is 2-0 during his time fighting in the promotion. Phillips has scored five wins by knockout and one by submission, only needing the judges' opinions to pick up one of his eight career victories.
Casey Kenney vs. Dominick Cruz, bantamweights
- Odds: Kenney -135, Cruz +115
- Last three results: Kenney - W,W,W | Cruz - L,L,W
Former longtime bantamweight champion Cruz (22-3) was out of action from December 2016 to May 2020, losing the title to Cody Garbrandt and returning in a losing effort to then-champion Henry Cejudo. Prior to those defeats, Cruz had won 13 consecutive fights, seven of which were for either the WEC or UFC championship. His unorthodox footwork and speed made him one of the most effective strikers in the sport. Unfortunately, injuries also took a toll, leaving Cruz sidelined for several stretches during his time at the top. Kenney (16-2-1) will bring a three-fight winning streak into the Octagon on Saturday. After failing to secure a UFC contract in two trips to Dana White's Contender Series, Kenney battled his way to win the interim LFA flyweight and bantamweight championships before finally getting the call to the big league. Kenney has gone 5-1 in the UFC, with all but one submission victory in the promotion going to the scorecards.
Aleksandar Rakic vs. Thiago Santos, light heavyweights
- Odds: Rakic -160, Santos +135
- Last three results: Rakic - W,L,W | Santos - L,L,W
In an impressive career, Santos' most impressive accomplishment may be that he is currently the only man to ever win a scorecard against Jon Jones. Santos (21-8) took a four-fight winning streak into the fight with Jones and battled hard while losing a close fight. Santos suffered several serious knee injuries against Jones, sidelining him for well over a year before returning in a losing effort against Glover Teixeira. In 21 career fights, Santos has 15 knockout victories. Rakic (13-2) lost his pro debut, but went on to rattle off 12 consecutive victories before a split decision loss to Volkan Oezdemir in December 2019. He came back from that defeat with a victory over Anthony Smith this past August, the biggest win of his career and one that moves him closer to a potential title shot. Nine of Rakic's 13 career victories have come via knockout.
Islam Makhachev vs. Drew Dober, lightweights
- Odds: Makhachev -380, Dober +300
- Last three results: Makhachev - W,W,W | Dober - W,W,W
In a stacked lightweight division, Makhachev (18-1) has been slowly battling his way up the rankings. After entering the UFC with an 11-0 record, Makhachev stumbled in his second fight for the promotion, getting knocked out by Adriano Martins. Since that defeat, Makhachev has scored six straight wins. While he has 10 victories by knockout of submission in his pro career, four of the wins on Makhachev's current run have come via decision. Dober (23-9) is on his own impressive run, with three consecutive victories and six wins in his seven fights since the start of 2017. All three wins on Dober's current streak have come via form of knockout, but he has been submitted three times, which could be an issue against Makhachev, who has seven submission wins in his career.
Petr Yan (c) vs. Aljamain Sterling, bantamweight title
- Odds: Yan -120, Sterling +100
- Last three results: Yan - W,W,W | Sterling - W,W,W
Yan (15-1) ripped through the UFC bantamweight division on his way to winning the then-vacant world title against former featherweight champ Jose Aldo. Yan has displayed top-tier striking while putting together his current 10-fight winning streak. In his 15 career victories, Yan has seven wins by knockout, including four in his seven UFC victories. Sterling (19-3) is a different kind of fighter than Yan, relying on strong grappling skills such as those he put on display in his 88-second submission win over Cory Sandhagen. Sterling had some early troubles in his UFC career, picking up back-to-back split decision losses against Bryan Caraway and Raphael Assuncao. He has since gone 7-1 with a current five-fight win streak. Sterling has eight submission wins in his 19 career victories.
Amanda Nunes (c) vs. Megan Anderson, women's featherweight title
- Odds: Nunes -1100, Anderson +700
- Last three results: Nunes - W,W,W | Anderson - W,W,L
Nunes heads into her latest title defense as a near prohibitive betting favorite. She's already accomplished nearly everything there is to in the sport with wins over every major name in the modern history of the sport, including Valentina Shevchenko (twice), Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie just to name a few. Nunes is currently on a 10-fight win streak dating back to 2014. Anderson, meanwhile, represents Nunes' third opponent at 145 pounds and the first to hold a height advantage over her. Anderson has had to learn some lessons early in her UFC career, dropping her debut to Holm. But she has bounced back since to win three of her last four with all three coming by stoppage.
Jan Blachowicz (c) vs. Israel Adesanya, light heavyweight title
- Odds: Adesanya -240, Blachowicz +200
- Last three results: Adesanya WWW (all at middleweight) | Blachowicz WWW
Blachowicz completed his long climb to the top of the sport in September, knocking out Dominick Reyes to capture the light heavyweight championship vacated by Jon Jones in the former champ's preparation to move to heavyweight. The victory was the fourth in a row for Blachowicz -- and his third knockout in that span -- and his eighth win in his nine most recent fights, a massive improvement from the 2-4 start to his UFC career.
Adesanya is making the ambitious attempt to become a two-division champion. Adesanya won the interim middleweight championship in his sixth UFC bout, beating Kelvin Gastelum in a Fight of the Year-level bout in 2019. One fight later, he won the undisputed title with a knockout of Robert Whittaker. After successful defenses against Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa ran his professional record to a perfect 20-0, he made the move to jump to light heavyweight, possibly to send a message to Jones, with whom Adesanya has long had a very public war of words.
Who will win Blachowicz vs. Adesanya, and which 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.