There was no new candidate for the UFC’s exclusive Champ Champions Club on Saturday night.
That’s what this main UFC 259 event was about, right? Middleweight champion Israel AdesanyaEndeavor to add the light heavyweight belt to become the fifth fighter to rule two weight classes at once and become one of the biggest stars in MMA.
Jan Blachowicz? In the prevailing narrative that led to this super fight, the 205 pound champ was just a supporting actor, a role he’s got used to – and a role he’s thrived in.
In fact, it would not have been a surprise if Blachowicz had experienced a little déjà vu mixed with his victory celebration.
When Blachowicz joined UFC 259, he had the familiar feeling of being overshadowed. In the past few weeks, Adesanya and the superstar opponent he was had drawn the most attention Not with a view to Jon Jones. Blachowicz even used the odds as a rare underdog champion. The underdog status is nothing new either. Blachowicz has only won twice in his last 10 fights.
But Blachowicz just kept going and doing what he has done over and over for the past three and a half years: he exceeded expectations and made it his night.
Blachowicz is no stranger to being overlooked or seeing how he deprives him of the opportunity only to confidently step into our field of vision and assert his presence at an extremely opportune moment. In the fall of 2017, he was 2-4 in the UFC and on the verge of losing his place on the squad. Since then, he has won nine of his ten fights.
And yet, as 38-year-old Blachowicz rose steadily through the ranks of light heavyweight competitors, then-division champion Jones looked in all directions except at the mighty thug from Poland. Jones had his eye on Adesanya, the middleweight champion with a rapidly rising star and the potential to gain weight. Jones later turned his gaze to the heavyweight division and its gigantic challenges, and it was there that he decided to steer his career and vacate the light heavyweight title.
Blachowicz won the vacant title in September with a knockout in the second round Dominick Reyes. But even as Blachowicz took possession of the belt, he still felt the pain of the missed opportunity. He’s in this game to challenge himself, and there is no greater challenge for a light heavyweight division than trying to solve Jones.
It’s impossible to ignore the fact that MMA is powered by star power, and how defeating a superstar like Jones could have turbo-charged Blachowicz’s career.
Now we’re going to find out if defeating Adesanya, who entered the fight on Saturday on the edge of the superstar himself, has a similar effect. It wasn’t the most dynamic win for Blachowicz as there wasn’t a special moment on the climax role, but it is a significant accomplishment to give a fellow champion his first defeat. Blachowicz faced another challenge and prevailed again.
It was clearly Blachowicz’s night at the end, but early on the fight was an even back and forth, with both men largely keeping their distance and exercising caution. Adesanya used his footwork to stay away from the power of the light heavyweight champion, and Blachowicz showed respect for the middleweight champion’s skillful all-angle attack, responding to every feint and move. Neither man badly injured the other, but both felt the effects of several significant blows and kicks. And when the championship rounds finally arrived, Blachowicz took over and refused to relinquish control.
The prevailing thought in the fight had been that Blachowicz’s power would make the difference if he could land a big blow. But as it turned out, it was on screen strength that Blachowicz won that fight.
He spent the final three minutes of the fourth round on Adesanya, who never posed a serious threat, to escape position and bring the fight back to a standstill. And in the middle of the last lap, Blachowicz took the fight back to the mat and again secured the position on his challenger, again with no escape route.
Jan Blachowicz showed his impressive grappling skills as he dominated the later rounds in his Main Event win against Israel Adesanya.
The fight ended with Blachowicz in the full mount, the most dominant position in the sport, landing strikes and elbows as the horn sounded. He made the unanimous decision, with two judges scoring the fight between 49 and 45 and the other between 49 and 46. It was the first loss of Adesanya’s pro-MMA career. Blachowicz took the circumstances given him and made the most of it.
This may not be Blachowicz’s feat that leads Jones to return to the £ 205 division. Jones is set to make his heavyweight debut this summer and challenge the winner of this month’s title bout Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou. Should Jones win the heavyweight championship, the 205-pound division would likely never see him again.
But if Jones’ offer fell short, especially if he suffered a heavy loss in his first fight against someone taller than him, could he look back at the light heavyweight division and look at Blachowicz through a new lens? After all, Jones made it clear that he looked elsewhere because he didn’t see the advantage of facing such an inconspicuous fighter. Blachowicz has certainly sharpened his profile by dealing with Adesanya. It is a beginning.
Should circumstances get Jones on the move, Blachowicz would welcome the challenge, even if it took a built Jones some time to get back to £ 205. “I believe in the future in which I will get this fight,” he told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto in advance of the fight this weekend. “If I’m not in the UFC, I’ll go to Albuquerque and fight him in his gym. We’ll do that.”
For Blachowicz, it was all about future matchmaking. As he spoke these words, he focused on Adesanya. But now that the middleweight champion is out of the way, Blachowicz’s full attention is being shifted to the next light heavyweight man. That seems to be the case Glover Teixeirawho has won five fights in a row and doesn’t have much time to wait at the age of 41.
Blachowicz is on board. “I’d like to fight Glover next,” he said.
This is how Jan Balchowicz works. He took care of business on Saturday night, and now it’s on to the next job. He’s the guy who keeps his head down and moves forward without being distracted by fantasy matchups or being the A-side on the marquee. Being a champion is what he’s always dreamed of and that’s enough for him. For now.