Official result: Jan Blachowicz def. Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45). Blachowicz retains the title in a big upset!
Jan Blachowicz has been doubted at every turn on his rise to becoming the light heavyweight champion, and it continued ahead of his first title defense on Saturday. But once again, Blachowicz defied the odds and retained his championship in the main event of UFC 259 with a win over middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in the Kiwi's bid to become a two-division champion.
Blachowicz and Adesanya fought a tense first three rounds, with both men looking to minimize mistakes and make the other pay. While Adesanya was the better technical striker, as expected, Blachowicz continued to throw punches and kicks with the former high-level kickboxing standout.
The feints of Adesanya seemed to trouble Blachowicz as much as any landed strikes. In fact, Blachowicz outlanded Adesanya in total strikes in every round of the fight according to the UFC's official stats.
While Blachowicz teased some grappling in the first three rounds, he was unable to take Adesanya down for any meaningful amount of time. It was in the championship rounds that Blachowicz showed off his bona fides, finally using his size and strength advantage to take down Adesanya and grind away with ground and pound.
Piling away the points in those big closing rounds allowed Blachowicz to pull away on the scorecards, earning the victory by scores of 49-46, 49-45 and 49-45. Two of the three judges gave Blachowicz a 10-8 round in Round 5, rewarding him for dominant ground work, including closing the fight in mount and dropping heavy punches to the face of the middleweight champ.
"I thought that he would be a little bit faster, but he don't hit so hard," Blachowicz said following his victory. "He was slower, but he hit harder, this was something I don't expect. I should do my left hand a little bit more, I should do more jabs, put more pressure on him. But game plan is one, and fight is second, a different thing."
As for what's next for the champion? Blachowicz believes the next man up should be veteran light heavyweight Glover Teixeira.
"I think [Teixeira] deserves it," Blachowicz said. "He'll have to wait a little bit, so I can rest and be with my family. But he will wait, he will be next."
In defeat, Adesanya was respectful of Blachowicz, acknowledging the night was "like a bad day at the gym."
"It didn't go the way I wanted it to go, but dare to be great," Adesanya said. "The critics are the ones on the sidelines, but I'm the one putting it on the line."
Adesanya said he would eventually return to the light heavyweight division. First, however, will come a return to the middleweight division to defend his belt.
"I rule them with an iron black fist," Adesanya said. "I'm going to go back down and handle business. If you want to get off the hype train, get the f--- off the hype train. We're just stopping for gas. If you want to stay on, I promise I'll make you proud."
Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including instant analysis of UFC 259 and all the madness below.
Blachowicz is now 9-4 in his UFC career when competing as an underdog, and he entered the Octagon as an underdog in his three most recent fights, including winning the vacant championship against Dominick Reyes.
"Now I think I deserve full respect," Blachowicz said of any doubters of his place in the sport. "I was the true champion before and I am the true champion now."
The rest of the PPV saw some interesting storylines emerge as well. Amanda Nunes made light work of top featherweight challenger Megan Anderson with a thorough dismantling of her opponent in just one round. Nunes dropped her taller foe before locking up and armbar submission to retain her title and extend her winning streak to 11. But the most-talked about result came from the men's bantamweight title fight where Petr Yan delivered an illegal knee to a downed Aljamain Sterling and was disqualified when his opponent was unable to continue. Sterling was awarded the 135-pound title despite being down on two of the three judges' scorecards heading into the fourth round.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from the UFC 259 below.
UFC 259 card and results
- Jan Blachowicz (c) def. Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45)
- Amanda Nunes (c) def. Megan Anderson via first-round submission (armbar)
- Aljamain Sterling (c) def. Petr Yan via DQ in the fourth round (illegal knee)
- Islam Makhachev def. Drew Dober via third-round submission (arm triangle)
- Aleksandar Rakic def. Thiago Santos via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Dominick Cruz def. Casey Kenney via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Kyler Phillips def. Song Yadong via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Askar Askarov def. Joseph Benavidez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
- Kai Kara-France def. Rogerio Bontorin via first-round TKO (punch)