— Jan Blachowicz (@JanBlachowicz) March 7, 2021
The effects of Jan Blachowicz’s unanimous decision victory over the previously undefeated Israel Adesanya in the main event of UFC 259 in Las Vegas are far-reaching for the sport of MMA.
First and foremost, they have completely legitimized the title reign of “The Polish Hammer”. Blachowicz picked up the vacant UFC Light Heavyweight Championship with an early second round TKO of Dominick Reyes in his previous fight after the promotion’s president Dana White stripped Jon Jones of the belt.
Nigeria-born New Zealand cage fighter Adesanya was 20-0 and bidding to become a two-weight champ coming into the bout as the clear favorite. “The Last Stylebender” lost more than just his unbeaten record in defeat to Blachowicz, however, as it also appears to have ended the prospect of facing Jones in a big grudge match.
White had wanted to promote a bout between them later this year. Following Adesanya’s first beating in MMA, the UFC chief said: “He’s the Middleweight champ, he doesn’t get the Light Heavyweight title and he doesn’t fight Jon Jones. It never hurts somebody for thinking big and trying to become great. He gave it a shot [against Blachowicz], it didn’t happen.”
Daniel Cormier, someone who knows a thing or two about winning multiple titles in the premier MMA promotion, highlighted the size of the challenge that Adesanya took on. “It shows how difficult it is to go up in weight class to try and become a double champion,” he said.
“Israel Adesanya is one of the best fighters in the world, and Jan Blachowicz showed that the 20lb difference and the skillset that he has is too difficult to overcome. Great job by the champ, a guy that has been wanting and learning and living to get the respect that he deserves. He’ll finally get it after beating one of pound for pound best fighters in the world.”
Blachowicz will certainly be more highly-regarded by oddsmakers, who had him as the underdog on this occasion, but he looks sure to be favorite when the MMA odds for his next UFC fight come out. Brazilian veteran Glover Teixeira, the Light Heavyweight division’s number one contender, should be next for the Polish fighter.
In just over three years since joining the UFC, Israel Adesanya:
🏆 Captured the middleweight title
📈 Put together a nine-fight win streak
🏆 Challenged for light heavyweight gold
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 7, 2021
Things are much less clear regarding where Adesanya goes from here. The top two contenders for the UFC Middleweight belt, Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa, are both fighters he’s stopped inside two rounds before in recent fights.
It’s hard to argue that Jared Cannonier, next in line according to rankings, should get a shot at the belt after losing four of his last eight MMA bouts to Teixeira, Blachowicz, Reyes and Whittaker in that order. Number four contender Darren Till has three defeats in his previous four fights too.
Faced with a Middleweight division lacking credible challengers, it looks as though Adesanya shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting his career back on track after this first major setback. Snapping his undefeated streak has definitely been the making of Blachowicz.