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Maybe now Jan Blachowicz will get the respect he deserves.
The Polish powerhouse tightened his grip on the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title, as he took a unanimous decision from reigning middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in the UFC 259 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. All three judges scored it for Blachowicz (28-8, 11-5 UFC): 49-46, 49-45 and 49-45. There will be no two-division reign for Adesanya, at least not yet.
After three closely contested rounds that saw the two champions trade leg kicks, jabs and occasional power punches, Blachowicz tapped into the City Kickboxing star’s most glaring weakness. He struck for takedowns in Rounds 4 and 5, controlled Adesanya (20-1, 9-1 UFC) from half guard and salted away arguably the most significant victory of his 36-fight career. Blachowicz did his best work at the end of the fifth round, where he fought through visible fatigue, dropped heavy ground-and-pound on “The Last Stylebender” and ultimately climbed to full mount in an ultimate show of strength.
Nunes Triangle Armbar Dismisses Anderson
Amanda Nunes retained the undisputed featherweight crown in what amounted to a squash match, as she submitted Megan Anderson with a triangle armbar in the first round of their co-main event. Anderson (11-5, 3-3 UFC) conceded defeat 2:03 into Round 1. She was never a threat.
Nunes (21-4, 14-1 UFC) cracked the Aussie with two overhand rights and set her on skates. From there, Anderson misfired on an ill-advised takedown attempt and wound up pinned underneath the Brazilian. Nunes dropped punches and hammerfists, then trapped the former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder in a triangle before snatching the arm to elicit the tapout.
The 32-year-old Nunes has rattled off 12 straight wins, eight of them finishes.
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Illegal Knee Disqualifies Yan
Aljamain Sterling captured the bantamweight championship in a most unexpected manner, as Petr Yan was disqualified after landing what was deemed to be an intentional illegal knee strike in the fourth round of their co-feature. Referee Mark Smith called for the stoppage 4:29 into Round 4, with Sterling (20-3, 12-3 UFC) unable to continue.
Yan (15-2, 7-1 UFC) appeared to have all the advantages once the fight reached the championship rounds. Sterling pushed a frantic pace for the first 15 minutes. He threw every strike in his arsenal at the unshakable Russian—to the point that has typically smooth movements became visibly labored. Yan’s airtight defense only heightened the sense of urgency in the Serra-Longo Fight team corner. Sterling whiffed on another takedown late in the fourth round, as the champion sprawled. With one of the challenger’s knees still clearly on the mat, Yan fired the fight-ending strike to the side of the head. The impact was devastating, and it left Sterling in a compromised state and in no position to move forward.
The loss was Yan’s first in nearly five years.
Makhachev Choke Submits Dober
American Kickboxing Academy export Islam Makhachev submitted Drew Dober with an arm-triangle choke in the third round of their lightweight feature. Dober (23-10, 9-6 UFC) bowed out 1:37 into Round 3, his run of three consecutive victories at an end.
Makhachev (19-1, 8-1 UFC) was flawless. He took down Dober in the first, second and third rounds, sliced through his guard and floated from one dominant position to the next, mixing in ground-and-pound when the opportunity presented itself. Makhachev executed his final takedown inside the first 30 seconds of Round 3, freed himself from an attempted kimura and cinched the choke while he was still stuck in half guard on the opposite side. Even so, the squeeze was strong enough to force the exhausted Dober to capitulate.
The 29-year-old Makhachev now finds himself on a seven-fight winning streak.
Rakic Outduels Cautious Santos
Repeated leg kicks, a stout jab and a robust clinch game spurred Aleksandar Rakic to a unanimous decision over Thiago Santos in a three-round light heavyweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it for Rakic (14-2, 6-1 UFC): 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.
Neither man seemed eager to engage—a reality that led to a disappointingly tepid affair. Rakic used his length to his advantage, doing just enough to keep the American Top Team-trained Brazilian at bay. Santos did himself no favors, especially in the first two rounds, where he failed to capitalize on his opponent’s lack of aggression. He turned up the heat some in the third, as he connected with heavy kicks to the body and leg, stuffed an attempted takedown and rattled Rakic’s midsection with close-range knees. However, it proved to be a case of too little too late.
Rakic, 29, has won 14 of his last 15 bouts.
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