UFC will present one of their strongest pay-per-view cards as of late on Saturday, showcasing four champions in three title fights at UFC 259. In the main event, 185-pound champ Israel Adesanya will move up a division to challenge UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz.
The event, which will take place behind closed doors at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, will also include title fights with two-division champ Amanda Nunes and current UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan.
Follow along throughout the evening for live coverage of the card.
Early Prelims (5:15PM EST / 2:15PM PST) (UFC Fight Pass)
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EST / 5:00PM PST) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Main Card (10:00PM EST / 7:00PM PST) (PPV)
Bout 15: Jan Blachowicz (27-8) vs. Israel Adesanya (20-0) (UFC Light Heavyweight Championship)
Blachowicz Defends Light Heavyweight Belt For First Time, Becomes First To Defeat Adesanya
Jan Blachowicz defended his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship for the first time on Saturday, handing middleweight champ Israel Adesanya his first pro loss in a unanimous decision performance (49-46, 49-45 & 49-45)
The win stopped Adesanya from making history, as he could have become the fifth man in UFC history to become a simultaneous two-division champion.
The five-round fight saw Blachowicz have a close striking battle and score a trio of takedowns that allowed him to control Adesanya for large portions of the bout.
Adesanya led a slow and methodical striking battle through the first and second round of the fight.
Blachowicz was able to take Adesanya down briefly in the first minute of the third round after connecting with some punches. Adesanya answered back once they got to the feet, landing a shot that wobbled Blachowicz slightly.
Blachowicz earned another takedown in the fourth round of the fight. He kept control on the ground for the majority of the round, moving into a side control in the final minute of the round.
Adesanya’s striking carried him through the first half of the final round, landing shots against a visibly fatigued Blachowicz. The momentum was eventually stopped halfway through the round when Blachowicz scored his third takedown. Blachowicz moved into full mount by the end of the round.
The two judges that gave Blachowicz a 10-8 round both scored it for the final round.
Adesanya was making the move up to light heavyweight after an extensive run at middleweight. Adesanya has been the UFC Middleweight Champion since 2019, where he stopped Robert Whittaker to claim the belt.
Adesanya weighed in at 200 pounds on Friday, coming in five pounds lighter than Blachowicz. He was critical of his performance afterwards, although he didn’t plan the performance on the size difference.
“The size did play a factor but my technique could have been sharper,” said Adesanya in his post-fight interview.
Adesanya said he plans on returning to light heavyweight, although he wants to go back to middleweight to “rule” the division.
Blachowicz earned the vacant light heavyweight belt in 2020, stopping two-time title challenger Dominick Reyes in the second round with strikes.
Bout 14: Amanda Nunes (20-4) vs. Megan Anderson (10-4) (UFC Featherweight Championship)
Nunes Catches Anderson Early With Armbar To Retain Featherweight Belt
Amanda Nunes made quick work of Megan Anderson in the co-main event, submitting her with an armbar to retain her UFC Featherweight Championship for the second time.
Anderson got wobbled in the second minute of their fight with a right hand. Nunes reversed a takedown attempt shortly after, taking the back of Anderson after. Nunes then looked for an armbar, which submitted Anderson shortly after being applied.
With her title defence, Nunes remains a two-division champion. Along with her featherweight belt, which she has now defended twice, she is currently a bantamweight champ as well.
The win for Nunes leaves a question about what’s next for the featherweight division. Anderson was not only one of the few people in the UFC who could have been given a title shot, but one of the few who are actually in the division currently.
Nunes defended her featherweight belt for the first time in 2020, defeating Felicia Spencer in a lopsided unanimous decision performance.
Anderson was given the title shot after picking up two stoppage wins in the featherweight division. Her previous fight was in 2020, where she defeated Norma Dumont with strikes.
Bout 13: Petr Yan (15-1) vs. Aljamain Sterling (19-3) (UFC Bantamweight Championship)
Sterling Becomes New Bantamweight Champion Due To Disqualification
Aljamain Sterling was crowned the new UFC Bantamweight Champion under unceremonious circumstances, as a foul from Petr Yan took him out of the fight in the fourth round of action and forced the belt to change hands.
The fight was stopped after Yan landed a knee to the head of Sterling in the 20th minute of their fight. Sterling, the challenger, had one knee on the canvas, making him a grounded opponent.
Sterling was visibly hurt from the strike afterwards, staying seated for minutes before the referee decided to end the fight.
The new champion was emotional after the fight, crying and refusing to carry the belt outside of the cage with him.
Prior to Yan losing the fight due to disqualification, he was putting together a long-form masterclass performance against Sterling.
Yan landed a right cross that dropped Sterling in the fourth minute of action. A leg kick knocked Sterling down again moments later. Yan was also able to score numerous takedowns in the opening round of their fight.
Sterling was aggressive with striking in the second round. Yan was able to earn a takedown in the latter half of the frame.
Sterling’s cardio took a large hit in the third round, as his pace slowed down and his movement became more informal.
Yan was attempting to defend his 135-pound belt for the first time. He claimed the vacant title last summer by stopping Jose Aldo in the fifth round of their fight.
Sterling was given the title shot after stringing together five wins from 2018 to 2020. He solidified himself as the next challenge in June of 2020, defeating Cory Sandhagen within a round with a rear naked choke.
Bout 12: Islam Makhachev (18-1) vs. Drew Dober (23-9) (Lightweight)
Makhachev Pressures, Submits Dober In Return
Islam Makhachev pressured constantly Drew Dober throughout their lightweight bout, eventually making him crack in the third round via submission to an arm triangle choke.
Makhachev landed a takedown in every round against Dober. Makhachev’s grinding performance kept Dober down for most of the bout.
Makhachev made his return and continued to build upon his extensive win streak. His last bout was in 2019, where he defeated Davi Ramos on scorecards. He was inactive in 2020 as numerous bookings fell through for various reasons.
Now that he’s on a seven-fight win streak, Makhachev feels like he needs a bigger challenge.
“Please, I need some top guy now,” said Makhachev in his post-fight interview.
Makhachev had former UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in his corner for the fight.
Dober entered the bout on a three-fight win streak.
Bout 11: Thiago Santos (21-8) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (13-2) (Light Heavyweight)
Rakic Wins Slow-Paced Striking Battle To Continue Climb Up Division
Aleksandar Rakic continued his climb up the light heavyweight division on Saturday, defeating Thiago Santos via decision after a slow-paced striking battle (29-28, 29-28 & 30-27).
The three-round fight on the feet saw Rakic out-strike Santos throughout.
Rakic now has a UFC record of six wins and one loss since entering the promotion in 2017. He had another notable victory in his previous fight, defeating Anthony Smith on scorecards.
Santos is now on a three-fight losing streak against high-profile opponents. The first bout in his skid was in 2019, where he lost a split decision to Jon Jones. He competed in a main event last year, getting finished in the second round of a bout against Glover Teixeira.
Bout 10: Dominick Cruz (22-3) vs. Casey Kenney (16-2-1) (Bantamweight)
Cruz Picks Up First Victory Since 2016 Title Reign
Former UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz earned his first victory in nearly five years on the prelims, picking up a split decision against Casey Kenney (29-28 Kenney, 29-28 Cruz & 30-27 Cruz).
In what many referred to as a performance like you would see in his prime years, Cruz was able to move away from strikes that Kenney threw and connect with his own shots. That’s not to say Kenney didn’t land his own shots in the fight, as he was also able to catch Cruz with strikes during exchanges.
The win was Cruz’s first since losing his belt to Cody Garbrandt in 2016. Injuries kept the former champ out of the cage for numerous years, making Saturday’s fight only his second appearance since his championship run.
Cruz’s last fight was in 2020, where he lost a title fight to then-champion Henry Cejudo.
Cruz stopped the momentum that Kenney had quickly picked up in 2020. The bantamweight had three wins in the year, including two within a three-week span.
Bout 9: Kyler Phillips (8-1) vs. Song Yadong (16-4-1) (Bantamweight)
Phillips Hands Song First UFC Loss
Kyler Phillips handed Song Yadong his first UFC loss on the prelims, defeating him via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
Phillips used a good variety of striking and takedowns to win the fight. His best rounds were the first two, where he out-landed Phillips on the feet.
Phillips scored a clean head kick in the first round that Song ate without hesitancy.
Song fought more aggressively in the final round once it became clear that he had lost the two prior rounds. Song’s momentum in the round was stopped after Phillips landed a takedown.
The fight was Song’s first loss since he entered the UFC roster in 2017. He had five wins and one draw in the promotion before taking a loss on Saturday.
Bout 8: Joseph Benavidez (28-7) vs. Askar Askarov (13-0-1) (Flyweight)
Askarov Sweeps Benavidez on Scorecards, Continues Undefeated Run
Askar Askarov outclassed Joseph Benavidez throughout their three-round fight, out-striking him and using his wrestling to win a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 & 30-26).
Askarov was able to keep Benavidez down for most of the first two rounds. He showed his striking the most in the final round, as the bout stayed on the feet or the entire frame.
Askarov remains undefeated in his UFC run. He picked up his first two wins in the UFC last year, defeating Tim Elliott and Alexandre Pantoja.
Benavidez was returning after losing to title shots via stoppage to Deiveson Figueiredo in 2020.
Bout 7: Kai Kara-France (21-9) vs. Rogerio Bontorin (16-2) (Flyweight)
Kara-France Makes One-Round Comeback Victory Over Bontorin
Kai Kara-France made a one-round comeback on the prelims, faceplanting Rogerio Bontorin with a right hook late in the first round to end his fight.
The win for Kara-France came after he was threatened by a rear naked choke from Bontorin for most of the round.
There was some confusion during the stoppage, as Kara-France stepped away and the fight seemingly stopped despite referee Herb Dean not waving off the bout. Kara-France eventually attempted to charge at Bontorin for a follow-up shot, although Dean prevented it from happening.
Kara-France’s win gave him a bounce back from taking a stoppage loss to Brandon Royval last year.
Similarly, Bontorin was returning after taking a loss to Ray Borg in his last bout.
Bout 6: Tim Elliott (16-11-1) vs. Jordan Espinosa (15-8) (Flyweight)
Elliott Dominates Espinosa For Scorecard Win
Tim Elliott had a grinding performance over Jordan Espinosa on the prelims, dominating him on the ground to earn a unanimous decision win (30-27, 30-27 & 30-25).
Elliott was able to keep Espinosa on his back for most of the fight, landing ground and pound from the position.
Elliott started to talk to Espinosa during the second round, referring to him as a “woman beater” at one point.
Elliott bled heavily in the final rough after being clipped by an elbow.
Elliott’s previous fight, a win against Ryan Benoit, snapped a three-fight skid for him.
Espinosa’s previous fight saw him lose on scorecards to David Dvorak.
Bout 5: Carlos Ulberg (3-0) vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (7-1) (Light Heavyweight)
Nzechukwu Makes Comeback To Stop Ulberg With Right Hook
Kennedy Nzechukwu won a hectic striking battle on the prelims, catching Carlos Ulberg with a right hook in the second round to pick up a win.
The finish came after two back-and-forth rounds on the feet. Nzechukwu had himself in trouble early in the fight, although he found his footing once Ulberg became visibly exhausted.
Nzechukwu spoiled the UFC debut for Ulberg, who was entering the fight with an undefeated record of three wins.
Ulberg earned his UFC contract last year by defeating Bruno Oliveira on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”
Nzechukwu was fighting for the first time in over a year. His last fight was in 2019, where he earned his first UFC win with a unanimous decision against Darko Stosic.
Bout 4: Sean Brady (13-0) vs. Jake Matthews (17-4) (Welterweight)
Brady Submits Matthews To Conclude One-Sided Performance
Sean Brady capped off a strong performance in the third round with an arm triangle choke against Jake Matthews. Brady looked for the choke in half guard, moving into side control before Matthews tapped out.
The win extended Brady’s undefeated record which now includes four UFC fights.
Brady had strong rounds early on, dominating Matthews on the ground with strikes and submissions.
The fight went to the ground in the first round after Matthews caught a leg of Brady and landed a right cross. Brady was able to move into top position eventually, where he looked for submissions and landed punches.
Brady controlled Matthews for most of the second round. He scored a takedown early in the round. The undefeated welterweight was able to eventually move into full mount, where he landed punches.
Brady’s previous fight was his first stoppage UFC win, where he submitted Christian Aguilera with a guillotine choke.
Matthews had his three-fight win streak broken in the fight.
Bout 3: Livinha Souza (14-2) vs. Amanda Lemos (8-1-1) (Strawweight)
Lemos Scores Two Knockdowns To Stop Souza Within A Round
Amanda Lemos scored two knockdowns on the prelims to stop Livinha Souza in the first round of their bout.
Punches from Lemos were what earned her the victory.
Lemos dropped Souza in the second minute of the bout with a right cross. The fight went to the ground shortly before they returned to striking. Souza got knocked down again, that time by a left jab, causing the fight to be stopped.
Lemos is now on a three-fight win streak. Her previous wins in the run included a decision victory over Mizuki Inoue and a submission win against Miranda Granger.
Souza won her previous bout, defeating Ashley Yoder on scorecards. The loss was the first time she got finished as a pro.
Bout 2: Uros Medic (6-0) vs. Aalon Cruz (8-3) (Lightweight)
Medic Stops Cruz Within A Round In UFC Debut
Uros Medic had a quick UFC debut win on the prelims, putting together strikes that took Aalon Cruz out of their bout in the second minute.
Medic hurt Cruz in the opening minute of the fight, stunning him with a left hook while leaving a clinch. He landed follow-up shots afterwards that dropped Cruz.
Medic continued to score with punches on the floor before the referee eventually stopped the fight. UFC’s statistics recorded 48 strikes from Medic before the referee stopped the bout.
Medic continued his career-long streak of finishing every fight. His previous win saw him earn a UFC contract by defeating Mikey Gonzalez on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”
Cruz was looking for his first UFC win in the fight. He made his promotional debut last year, losing a bout to Spike Carlyle.
Bout 1: Trevin Jones (12-6) vs. Mario Bautista (8-1) (Bantamweight)
Jones Stops Bautista With Punches, Earns Official UFC Victory
Trevin Jones earned his first official UFC win in the opening bout of the card, stopping Mario Bautista with punches in the second round.
Jones connected with an uppercut early in the second round that dropped Bautista. Follow-up shots made the referee stop the bout. The finish came after the bantamweights had a close striking battle in the previous round.
Jones was returning for his second UFC fight. He pulled off a large upset in his previous appearance, being a short-notice opponent that stopped Timur Valiev with strikes. However, that win was later overturned to a no contest by the Nevada Athletic Commission due to his drug test detecting marijuana.
Entering the cage as an underdog again, Jones can now say he has a win in the UFC.
Jones was satisfied with his win afterwards.
“Everything was on point for this fight,” said Jones in his post-fight interview.
Bautista was returning after a year outside of the cage. He had a two-fight win streak prior to Saturday that included a stoppage win against Miles Johns.