With a trio of world titles at stake and a loaded undercard, it was only natural there would be no shortage of takeaways following Saturday's UFC 259 in Las Vegas.
The 15-fight card delivered early with wild finishes and shocking upsets mid-fight before all hell broke loose on the main card. A controversial title may have stolen the day while the greatest women's fighter of all time continued to prove why she's earned that moniker. And that doesn't even touch on the upset that happened in the main event to prevent a fifth simultaneous two-division champion from being crowned.
Let's take a closer look at what went down and what it means from the UFC Apex.
1. Israel Adesanya is surprisingly human
Given how dominant the reigning middleweight champion had been in just three years since making his UFC debut, it was hard not to back the oddsmakers in favoring him to add Jan Blachowicz's 205-pound title to his growing legacy. But Blachowicz's comments in the post-fight interview following his unanimous decision victory turned out to be surprising when he said Adesanya wasn't nearly as quick or powerful as he expected him to be. It's no knock on Adesanya in the end, especially after he fought so well before succumbing to the larger Blachowicz's timely takedowns in the championship rounds. "The Last Stylebender" also responded to the loss exceptionally well, giving all the credit to Blachowicz while also reminding us how much he was "daring to be great." Yet it was easy to fall victim to his bold ambition ahead of this fight and imagine whether he truly was on pace to shatter expectations and mirror what he once did as an elite kickboxer by moving as high as heavyweight while having the same success. Instead, any thoughts of Adesanya becoming the UFC's first three-division champion need to be shelved as he returns back to middleweight to continue his impressive reign. Huge success breeds even bigger expectations and that was certainly true of Adesanya. But this was undoubtedly a "coming back down to earth" moment.
2. Blachowicz deserves so much more respect
Allow me to out myself among those who have routinely bet against Blachowicz's chances amid his meteoric run to winning the vacant light heavyweight title. In fact, Blachowicz has been the betting underdog in 10 of his previous 12 fights entering his first title defense. Yet everything he did against Adesanya resembled the kind of veteran moves typically performed by long-reigning champions. Blachowicz used a heavy jab to offset Adesanya's speed and reach advantages, and he relied on his wrestling at key times during the final two rounds to sway potentially close rounds and do damage from top position. This was a gutsy win for the 38-year-old Blachowicz, who constantly made championship adjustments to keep Adesanya from completely dictating the terms of the fight. Was Blachowicz's win or the likelihood that he faces 41-year-old Glover Teixeira next the best result for UFC from a financial standpoint? No chance, but that should be the least of Blachowicz's worry. He has consistently improved with each fight during his current 9-1 run over his last 10 and won with guile, humility and poise. Make no mistake, Blachowicz is a true champion.
3. The only fight for Nunes remains Valentina Shevchenko
Let's face it, Amanda Nunes isn't just the women's G.O.A.T., she's making a strong run at inclusion in the same category regardless of gender. Her domination of Megan Anderson in Saturday's featherweight title defense proved scarily easy for the two-division champ who has sickening power and zero holes in her game. Shevchenko, the reigning women's flyweight champion, previously lost twice by close decision to Nunes at bantamweight, including a split decision in 2017 that could've gone either way. The fact that Shevchenko has only improved her standing as one of the best pound-for-pound women's fighters in history since moving down to her preferred weight of 125 pounds raises the interest as to how competitive a third fight might be. Outside of Shevchenko, no one else has a prayer. Nunes has long said she would take the trilogy if the UFC wanted. Here's to hoping they make it worth her while financially considering how deserving Nunes is of every accolade and dollar she receives.
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4. Petr Yan has no one to blame but himself
That doesn't mean Aljamain Sterling should've exited UFC 259 as the bantamweight champion following Yan's disqualification loss for an illegal knee strike in Round 4. But regardless of the UFC's rules, Yan committed a horrendous and largely unforced error that isn't erased by Khabib Nurmagomedov having overheard Yan's corner at cageside instructing him to go forward with the strike against a downed opponent on his knees. Yan should've never taken such a dangerous chance to begin with and committed a rare mistake at such an inopportune time. Although Sterling's insane pace early on played a big role in this fight becoming a thriller, Yan was the getting better with each round and seemed close to gaining complete control over a fading Sterling. Instead, he loses the fight and his title in a manner of seconds. Considering he was ahead on two scorecards at the time of the stoppage, Yan deserves a second chance in a rematch. But this setback slows down the commercial effect of his rise and leaves no guarantee he wins a rematch given Sterling's level of talent in this incredibly deep division.
5. Islam Makhachev might be the next great lightweight
With Khabib Nurmagomedov in his corner, Makhachev delivered a performance so dominant in submitting Drew Dober in their lightweight clash that it was eerily similar to the kind typically turned in by the unbeaten champion. Given Nurmagomedov's likely retirement, the door could swing open for Makhachev to make a run at the top five and legit title contention. The victory was his seventh straight as he overcame a 17-month layoff with no ill effects by showcasing an insane motor that was only overshadowed by his wizardry control of all aspects of the grappling game. Amazingly enough, the native of Dagestan in Russia appears title ready right now.