Israel Adesanya failed in his bid to become a double-champ, Australia’s Megan Anderson was no match for Amanda Nunes, while controversy struck in the first fight of a title triple-header on Sunday (AEDT) at UFC 259 in Las Vegas.
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KIWI CAN’T JOIN EXCLUSIVE CLUB
Israel Adesanya’s attempt to become the UFC’s fifth double-champion ultimately ended in disappointment as Jan Blachowicz successfully defended his light heavyweight strap.
Adesanya, the Kiwi middleweight champion, went up to the 205-pound division, but ultimately couldn’t handle the jump as Blachowicz took the unanimous decision victory.
The 185-pound champion found the bigger size of his opponent difficult to handle, especially when Blachowicz drew his opponent into clinches and down on to the mat late in the bout.
The judges scored the fight 49-46, 49-45, 49-45 as the Polish champion handed Adesanya the first loss of his mixed martial arts career.
After a tight opening three rounds without either fighter really hurting the other, Blachowicz took over in the fourth and fifth as big takedowns in each championship round saw the 38-year-old control things on the ground.
Two judges scored the fifth round 10-8.
“This is not a one-off,” Adesanya said after the fight. “I definitely will be back … I’m going back to 185, and I’m going to rule that b**** with my iron black fist.”
Adesanya’s nine-fight win streak in the UFC came to an end against Blachowicz, who took the 205-pound belt in 2020 after stopping Dominick Reyes.
“I thought he would be a little bit faster,” Blachowicz said. “But he hit harder than I thought.”
— with AFP
AMANDA NUNES’ NON-EVENT
There’s levels to this.
And on Sunday, it very quickly became clear Australian Megan Anderson was not on Amanda Nunes’ other-worldly level. And to be fair to her, it seems no-one is, as the Brazilian won her twelfth straight fight in the co-main at UFC 259.
Nunes further solidified her GOAT status after putting Anderson away in just two minutes; a fight Joe Rogan labelled a “non-event”. It was an arm bar that ultimately sealed the two-division champion’s featherweight defence after her big right hand set up the finish.
TITLE DISQUALIFICATION STUNS
Petr Yan looked to be on his way to defending his bantamweight title for the first time at UFC 259 before an illegal knee turned everything on its head.
The first of three title fights on a monster card in Las Vegas was called off in the fourth round after Aljamain Sterling, a downed fighter, ate a knee from the champion.
Yan appeared to be in control after withstanding an early barrage from the challenger, and was working over Sterling, before it all came crashing down. Yan’s title was ripped from him as a knee landed on his downed opponent was deemed an intentional illegal strike.
“You can’t get more illegal than that,” Joe Rogan said in commentary.
Yan was ahead on the scorecards 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 at the time of the disqualification.
Sterling threw the belt to the ground after becoming the first UFC challenger to win a belt via disqualification.
“That’s not the way I wanted to win,” Sterling said post-fight. “That’s not the way I envisioned this.”
Sterling added: “I was trying to continue even being all f*cked up like that, but I was in bad shape and it would have just been ego taking over.”
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IN-CAGE CONVERSATION CAUGHT ON MICS
Tim Elliott put together a dominant flyweight display against Jordan Espinosa, but it was their conversation in the second round that left those watching on stunned.
Elliott won via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-25) in a fight he managed from start to finish; tallying over 10 minutes of ground control.
And it was with just seconds running down in the second, with Elliott in top control, that the American started talking.
Elliott: “I heard you choked a girl in 2018. Are you a woman beater? Are you a f*cking woman beater? [inaudible] messaged me.”
Espinosa: “You don’t know the full story.”
Elliott: “I know enough.”
Espinosa: “You don’t know s**t.”
“Wow, that’s ugly,” Daniel Cormier said in commentary. “There were some ugly words being spoken down there between these two.”
READ MORE >
STOPPAGE DRAMA HITS EARLY
A first-round stoppage victory for Uros Medic at lightweight was ultimately marred by the nature of the finish and referee Mark Smith’s inaction.
Medic had Aalon Cruz hurt within the first minute of their bout on the early prelims, with Rogan and Cormier calling for the fight to stop.
“He’s got to stop it,” Rogan said with 4:06 left in the first round as Medic went to work on the ground. “Stop the fight, it’s over.”
With 3:56 left in the round, Rogan added: “This is unnecessary punishment. This is unnecessary.”
Cruz was squirming and moving just enough to keep Smith from stopping the bout, with the 31-year-old getting back to his feet at one point, only to be dropped again immediately.
“I don’t understand what he’s waiting for,” Cormier said.
“I can’t believe he’s not stopping this,” Rogan added with 3:24 now left in the first.
The fight was eventually stopped with 3:20 on the clock, with Medic having landed 48 strikes to Cruz’s zero.
HYPE TRAIN DERAILED
Carlos Ulberg had a whole lot of hype heading into his UFC debut on Sunday. But it was quickly extinguished as Kennedy Nzechukwu left the Kiwi former male model on the canvas in a heap.
The second-round finish came as a surprise after Ulberg, a product of City Kickboxing in Auckland, started well against Nzechukwu, who was the underdog coming into the light heavyweight affair.
An early stoppage looked on the cards for Ulberg, but the 30-year-old slowed, had his chin in the air and his guard low, before a big right hand caught and dropped him.
Ulberg’s CKB teammate Kai Kara-France had a better time of things against Rogerio Bontorin in a match-up between two flyweight contenders.
Kara-France survived what looked to be a certain submission, before securing a stunning walk-off knockout in a finish — with less than 20 seconds left in the first — that beggared belief. READ MORE >
City Kickboxing went 1-2 after Adesanya also tasted defeat.
FULL CARD AND RESULTS
Jan Blachowicz (c) vs. Israel Adesanya (c) — via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45) — light heavyweight title
Amanda Nunes (c) def. Megan Anderson — via first-round submission — women’s featherweight title
Aljamain Sterling (1) def. Petr Yan (c) — via disqualification — bantamweight title
Islam Makhachev (14) def. Drew Dober (15) — via third round submission — lightweight
Aleksandar Rakic (4) def. Thiago Santos (2) — via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) — light heavyweight
Dominick Cruz (11) def. Casey Kenney — via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27) — bantamweight
Kyler Phillips def. Song Yadong (14) — via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) — bantamweight
Askar Askarov (3) def. Joseph Benavidez (2) — via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26) — flyweight
Kai Kara-France (8) def. Rogerio Bontorin (8) — via first round TKO — flyweight
Tim Elliott (12) def. Jordan Espinosa — via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-25) — flyweight
Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Carlos Ulberg — via second round TKO — light heavyweight
Sean Brady def. Jake Matthews — via third round submission — welterweight
Amanda Lemos def. Livinha Souza (15) — via first round TKO — women’s strawweight
Uros Medic def. Aalon Cruz — via first round TKO — lightweight
Trevin Jones def. Mario Bautista — via second round TKO — bantamweight