The time has come! UFC 259 arguably the fight card is finally among us and it is one to get excited for. We have not one, not two but three title fights in the men’s light heavyweight, bantamweight divisions as well as the women’s featherweight division. This card from the very first preliminary fight all the way to the main event is worth staying glued in front of the TV the entire time.
Thiago Santos vs Aleksandar Rakic
It’s crazy to say that kicking off the main card is a light heavyweight showdown between two of the divisions best, former title challenger Thiago Santos and rising prospect Aleksandr Rakic. A win from either fighter in this fight will propel them up the rankings in a very wide open light heavyweight division.
Aleksandr Rakic has been soaring up the light heavyweight rankings since coming into the UFC with a 5-1 record. Rakic being a long rangy kickboxer he has been able to utilize his height and reach to keep his opponents at the end of his strikes. He is going to need to keep this fight at distance as much as possible to stay out of the reach of the fight-changing power that Santos possesses. Also, Rakic is a very underrated grappler and he showed that in his last fight with Anthony Smith. If goes in there with a grapple heavy approach that might be his best strategy to negate the big strikes of Santos.
Thiago Santos is coming off of back-to-back losses for the first time since 2016. Santos was put on the shelf for 16 months with an ACL tear after his narrow loss to Jon Jones and he didn’t look like the same fighter in his first fight back against Glover Texeira. Texeira was able to weather the early storm and landed the takedowns and eventually sunk in the rear naked choke. If Santos can keep this fight on the feet at any given moment he can win this fight.
Santos is going to need to use his nasty leg kicks to his advantage in this fight to keep Rakic as stationary as possible. If Rakic is able to keep out of the range of those calf kicks and get on the inside and make this a grueling grappling type of fight, that is where he will have his advantage. Expect Santos to land some heavy shots but ultimately Rakic will weather the early storm and drag Santos into deep waters to get the victory.
Aleksandar Rakic via unanimous decision
Islam Makhachev vs Drew Dober
Two surging lightweights are on tap in this fight between Islam Makhachev and Drew Dober. Both fighters have been on an absolute tear as of late and are looking to put a stamp in the lightweight division with a big win on Saturday night.
A training partner of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhachev emulates a similar style of fighting. Even though they both are similar in their style of fighting, Makhachev has shown some crisp striking in his time in the UFC. In this fight with Drew Dober, it would be in his best interest to use his strikes to set up the takedowns which are where Dober is at his weakest. Makhachev has shown that he is levels above most in the lightweight in terms of wrestling and he is going to need that wrestle-heavy approach to get his hand raised here.
Drew Dober looks like a brand new fighter after his last loss to Beneil Dariush back in 2019. Since that loss, he has won 3 in a row with all 3 coming by way of knockout. Dober being a training partner of Gaethje, you can also see the similarities between in fighting styles. Dober is a come-forward pressure who is looking to throw bombs to get the finish. If he is able to replicate the same success he had in each of his three-fight win streaks then there is a chance here.
It is hard to see Dober going in there and defending the takedowns of one of the best grapplers in the entire division. He has been taken down and submitted by lesser athletes so he’s got a tall task in front of him. Makhachev is going to need to avoid the power of Dober and engage in the grappling without his back against the cage. Dober will be throwing some heat in this fight but all it will take is one attempt from Makhachev to take this fight to the mat which is where the majority of this fight will take place.
Islam Makhachev via unanimous decision
Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling
The first of three title fights, we have this weekend is a fight for the Bantamweight Championship of the world. This fight between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling has the potential to steal the entire show. The bad blood between these two just make this fight even more interesting and exciting which is one you sure do not want to miss.
Petr Yan was a highly touted prospect coming into his UFC debut back in 2018 and with that first-round knockout of Teruto Ishihara, Yan just took off like a rocket. He has been on a sensational 7-0 run that led him to capture the vacant Bantamweight Championship against one of the legends in this sport Jose Aldo. Yan has elite striking skills backed with a very underrated grappling game as well. He is going to need to use that underrated grappling of his to keep this fight standing and at a distance where he can punish his foe, Aljamain Sterling.
Aljamain Sterling in his own right has looked just as impressive as Yan during his 5 fight win streak. Sterling came into his fight with Sandhagen and didn’t play any games. He went for the takedown right away, was able to get Sandhagen’s back and that’s all she wrote. It was absolutely sensational performance and that is what he is going to have to do if he wants to become the next Bantamweight Champion.
Sterling has come into this fight looking like the bigger, stronger fighter and said he will be using a very grapple-centric game plan. That sounds great on paper but the problem lies with if he doesn’t get the early finish how will his cardio be in the championship rounds, something Sterling has never had to deal with. Yan has shown he has the abilities to stuff takedowns and annihilate his opponents on the feet and I see more of the same here. Sterling will have some early success with his takedowns but as the rounds keep on passing by Yan will start to pull out ahead as the fresher fighter.
Petr Yan via 3rd round KO/TKO
Amanda Nunes vs Megan Anderson
In the co-main event on the fight card is our second title fight for the women’s Featherweight Championship. The double-champ, the greatest women’s MMA fighter of all time Amanda Nunes is looking to defend her featherweight championship once again against the surging and very tough challenger in Megan Anderson. This could be the champion’s toughest test to date in the featherweight division.
Megan Anderson had a lot of hype surrounding her coming into her UFC debut against Holly Holm where she tasted just her 3rd defeat. She then has rattled off a 3-1 record en route to her title fight with the GOAT of women’s MMA. Anderson has shown good clean crisp striking technique that will give Nunes some problems in this fight especially because she is the tallest women’s fighter on the roster. If Anderson can weather the early storm, defend the takedowns, and outpace Nunes she can pull off the monumental upset.
When it is all said and done Amanda Nunes will go down as one of the greatest women’s MMA fighters of all time. Nunes doesn’t look like she has missed a step even with years of being so dominant. We did see a little chink in the armor of Nunes in her last fight against Germaine De Randamie. She was gassing out towards the championship rounds and that could possibly be her kryptonite in this fight with Anderson. If Nunes gets tired at any moment, Anderson is one that can capitalize at the moment. She is going to need to go in there and make quick like she has done so many times in the past to retain her title on Saturday night.
If Nunes pulls off the win here and retains her title it is hard to see there being much left of the shallow women’s featherweight division. But if Anderson is able to pull off the upset it will shed some light and open up more opportunities within the division. This fight will play out a lot closer than Nunes’ past title defenses and this just might be the end of the double-champ.
Megan Anderson via 4th round KO/TKO
Jan Blachowicz vs Israel Adesanya
In our main event of this weekend’s stacked fight card, we have a title fight the Light Heavyweight Championship of the world. Newly crowned light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz will look to defend his title for the very first time against the dangerous undefeated striker and middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. This fight could arguably be a fight of the year candidate type of fight.
Israel Adesanya has just been remarkable ever since making the transition from kickboxing to MMA. Adesanya now at 20-0 is looking to leave a legacy within this sport trying to become the promotions 5th double-champ. He should have a massive speed advantage in this fight against Blachowicz and he will need to utilize that speed, reach, and striking arsenal to keep away from the Polish Power.
Jan Blachowicz shocked the world when he went in there and starched Dominick Reyes inside 2 rounds. Blachowicz has what he likes to call Polish Power that has been a game-changer throughout the course of his UFC career. All it takes is one punch from that power of Blachowicz that can change the entire landscape of this fight come Saturday night.
This fight is going to be a very technical striking affair between two very high-level strikers. Blachowicz is a counter striker that doesn’t over-commit and just wants for the right opportunity to strike. While Adesanya will throw out an array of strikes just for his opponent to make the next move to hit him with a counter after they miss. This fight should start out slow but will pick up midway through round 2. Expect Blachowicz to try to lay some leather and use the cage to wear out the smaller Adesanya. All while Adesanys will use his impeccable striking and footwork to stay on the outside and outstrike Blachowicz for the entirety of this fight.
Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision