Jan Blachowicz defended his UFC gentle heavyweight title with a unanimous choice over beforehand unbeaten Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 on Saturday evening, thwarting Adesanya’s bid to carry two championship belts concurrently.
Aljamain Sterling additionally gained the UFC’s bantamweight title when Petr Yan was disqualified for an unlawful knee strike within the fourth spherical. Two-division champion Nunes then defended her featherweight belt with ease, beating Megan Anderson by submission 2:03 into the primary spherical on the Apex fitness center on the UFC’s company campus.
The 38-year-old Blachowicz (28-8) made his first title protection after weathering a formidable begin by Adesanya (20-1), the fearsome middleweight champion transferring up for a shot at historical past. The Polish champion turned their combat with two large takedowns and subsequent floor management within the fourth and fifth rounds.
Blachowicz ended the combat in full mount whereas raining down punches on Adesanya, who had by no means misplaced in a blended martial arts profession that started in 2012. Adesanya, the charismatic Nigerian-born New Zealander, failed to hitch Amanda Nunes, Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo because the UFC’s solely simultaneous two-belt champions.
Adesanya was the sharper, extra aggressive striker within the early rounds, however Blachowicz survived the onslaught and ultimately carried out his recreation plan. Blachowicz turned the combat within the fourth spherical with a formidable takedown and powerful floor work, all however forcing the judges to present him the spherical.
He took down Adesanya once more halfway by way of the fifth earlier than ending the combat in a dominant place. Blachowicz joyously celebrated the most recent victory in a late-career surge for a fighter who gained his title final September after six years within the UFC and 13 years as a professional.
The much-anticipated slate of three title fights at UFC 259 obtained off to a weird begin when Yan’s inexplicable guidelines violation handed the 135-pound title to Sterling.
The combat was stopped with 31 seconds left within the fourth when Yan drove his knee into the face of Sterling, who was kneeling on the canvas in entrance of him.
Combined martial arts guidelines strictly prohibit such blows to a downed opponent, and the knee clearly damage Sterling, who struggled and didn’t rise up for a number of minutes. The bout was known as off by referee Mark Smith, who had verbally warned Yan to not throw such a strike a number of seconds earlier.
Sterling (20-3) appeared disoriented and disillusioned when the belt was wrapped round his waist after a combat he gave the impression to be dropping to Yan (15-2). Sterling threw the belt onto the canvas earlier than he left the octagon.
“Every little thing I labored for up to now, and to have the combat go like that …,” a teary-eyed Sterling stated afterward. “I assumed the combat was very shut. I assumed I used to be down two rounds. That’s not the way in which I wished to win. That’s not the way in which I envisioned this. I simply took the belt off, man. I used to be attempting to proceed, however I used to be in dangerous form.”
Nunes (21-4) dealt with her second featherweight title protection together with her normal aptitude, making brief work of her Australian challenger whereas extending her profitable streak to 12 fights since 2014.
After peppering Anderson (11-5) with strikes, Nunes jumped on her off-balance challenger and labored her manner right into a triangle armbar, forcing Anderson to faucet out shortly.
The combat was Nunes’ first since her spouse, fellow UFC fighter Nina Ansaroff, gave start to their first youngster. Nunes has been the UFC’s bantamweight champion since 2016, and she or he added the featherweight strap in late 2018.
Yan placed on a masterful efficiency for 3 rounds within the first protection of his 135-pound belt, weathering his high-intensity opponent’s sturdy begin earlier than imposing his bodily will from the third spherical onward.
Yan appeared to take management of the combat within the third spherical and early within the fourth towards his tiring challenger, however his blatantly unlawful strike pressured officers to make the unsavory choice to award a title belt by disqualification.
Sterling earned his title shot with 5 straight victories over the previous three years. The Lengthy Island native’s artistic, athletic preventing model — his nickname is Funk Grasp — has made him a well-liked decide as a future UFC champion for a number of years.
However Sterling was overwhelmed to the belt by Yan, who gained the title vacated by Henry Cejudo by knocking out José Aldo final July. The victory punctuated the Siberian powerhouse’s 7-0 run since becoming a member of the UFC almost three years in the past.
Earlier, former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz beat Casey Kenney by break up choice for his first victory since June 2016. Cruz, who turns 36 on Tuesday, noticed his ascendant profession derailed way back by brutal harm issues, however the San Diego native persevered towards a equally exhausted Kenney to win in simply his sixth MMA bout since October 2011.
Three-time flyweight title contender Joseph Benavidez additionally took his third consecutive loss in a one-sided choice win for Russia’s Askar Askarov, who missed weight for the bout.