Israel Adesanya is looking to set up the biggest fight in MMA history, but Jan Blachowicz will be looking to spoil the best laid plans when the two collide at UFC 259.
Striking that can disable anyone's power 🤯
— UFC (@ufc) March 5, 2021
Israel Adesanya is looking to prove that you can have it all. Already the undisputed best middleweight in the world, the New Zealander has been everywhere from selling out a stadium in Australia, gracing the cover of the UFC video game, and commentating the boxing match between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. As a brand, he continues to grow and push toward newer heights as a crossover star. As a fighter, he is two steps away from historical pound-for-pound greatness.
With formidable challenges in Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa left in the dust, Adesanya has set his sights on the biggest target in mixed martial arts: pound-for-pound kingpin Jon Jones. He has played his role perfectly, from a social media blitz to a 2021 plan that he is speaking into existence. Should he go on to win the light heavyweight crown that Jones vacated last year, he will have thrown down a gauntlet unlike any of Jones’ previous opponents in his entire decade of dominance. Jones may be focused on the heavyweight championship, but there is no doubt that an Adesanya victory would make a fight with Jones the biggest fight to be made in mixed martial arts today. At the very least, it would put Adesanya in rarefied air and turn any subsequent fight into must-watch television worldwide.
Be careful what you wish for 🚧
— UFC (@ufc) March 1, 2021
The greatest enemies to the best-laid plans are those who have been left out of them. After starting his UFC career 2-4, championships were not a concern for Jan Blachowicz as much as job security. A former KSW champion, a return to his former team led to a resurgence as the Polish powerhouse went on an 8-1 run. The rebuild was quiet, mostly taking place on the prelims or on unheralded events on Fight Pass. Blachowicz emerged as a top contender by putting together a four fight win-streak to earn a title eliminator (which he lost) and then another three fight win-streak to finally earn a shot at the title.
The stage last October was set for an uncrowned king in Dominick Reyes to redeem himself. After a controversial split-decision loss to Jones, Reyes was the favorite to complete the job and finally take the title that most felt he’d already won in February. Instead, Blachowicz dismantled him with a masterclass in breaking down his opponent and crushing his nose en route to a second round stoppage to win the belt. It was a seminal moment for his career, and he now finds himself in the role of spoiling the biggest fight in MMA as he looks to write his own legend.
The true test will be whether or not Adesanya’s strikes have the same effect at light heavyweight compared to the sting he has at middleweight. Adesanya has been largely successful by creating openings that allow him to connect with clean and precise shots. Against a powerfully built athlete in Blachowicz, it is expected that he will need to exercise the same caution but connect with more volume if he is to be triumphant against the bigger man. Adesanya is the more precise and active fighter, but Blachowicz has proven his ability to break down opponents and he will be looking to crowd the challenger. If he feels that Adesanya’s shots are not as dangerous, he is expected to be highly effective in walking down the New Zealander and overpowering him for the victory.
— UFC (@ufc) March 5, 2021
While many expect an epic call out from Adesanya, the fact is that he will likely wait to see the results of the heavyweight title fight and aftermath. Considering he already holds wins over three of the top four contenders at middleweight, many expect him to stay at light heavyweight to add more fuel to the flames of the super fight. Blachowicz will have the same monster waiting in the wings for him as resurgent top contender Glover Teixeira has cemented his place as the next challenger for whomever emerges triumphant on Saturday.