Israel Adesanya bids to become 5th double champ in UFC history
Nigerian-born UFC Middleweight Champion of the World, Israel Adesanya (MMA 19:0, UFC 19:0) aims to become only the fifth double champ in UFC history and the very first to achieve that feat while undefeated when he takes on the UFC Light Heavyweight champion of the World, Jan Blachowicz (MMA: 27-8; UFC: 10-5).
Israel, who moved from Nigeria to New Zealand when he was just 10, would be moving up a weight class for this fight. Having destroyed every possible title contender in middleweight, Israel Adesanya needs new competition thus the stepping up. The king of the Light Heavyweights, the Pole, Blachowicz is also in need of some competition as his division, dominated in nearly a decade by Jon Jones, has grown largely lacklustre. This fight is expected to shake things up.
Make no mistakes, this fight is probably the trickiest fight the Last Style Bender has faced. At a natural 184 pounds (83kg), he has always fought in middleweight which is his natural weight class. For his silky smooth and evasive fighting style, that has always been a big advantage. But for this fight, he has to move up a weight class and that’s where it gets tricky. Well, not exactly as difficult as fighting below your weight class but it can get really tricky nonetheless.
The heavyweight divisions are for guys who look physically intimidating. For someone as naturally skinny as Israel Adesanya, he would look remarkably smaller. Even though he has managed to add some extra pounds to climb up to about 195, he still looks relatively small nonetheless. As aptly described by Alex McCarthy of Talksport, Blachowicz resembles two Israel Adesanyas at first glance. Ladies and gentlemen, we could be witnessing a real-life David vs Goliath fight come Sunday morning (Nigerian time).
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But unlike the real David vs Goliath fight, Adesanya is the odds on favourite to win this encounter. It isn’t difficult to see why. In 20 MMA fights, Adesanya, widely regarded as the best striker in the world of MMA, has never lost a fight. When a fighter is unbeaten for that long, it becomes hard, if not impossible to bet against him.
Blachowicz on the other hand has won 27 of his 35 fights in MMA. His UFC career started disastrously after following his debut win over Illir Lafiti with back to back losses against Jimi Manuwa and Corey Anderson. His next win was followed again by 2 losses, indicating an abysmal 75% loss rate after 6 fights. But the Prince of Cieszyn demonstrated his mental toughness by bouncing back with 4 straight wins, a loss and another 4 straight wins, including that knock out vs Dominick Reyes at the co-main event of UFC 253 which won him the Light Heavyweight gold. That was the same night Adesanya successfully defended against Paulo Costa in the main event. This means Blachowicz has won 8 of his last 9 fights. In MMA and in the UFC, that’s impressive.
But definitely not as impressive as Adesanya’s 9 in his last 9. This guy isn’t called the Last Style Bender for nothing. He adapts perfectly to any fight and has the uncanny habit of taking out guys who come at him with the mentality of an aggressor. Think Vetorri, think Bronson, think Whittaker, they all brought the fight to this ‘skinny lad’ and got TKO’d for their troubles.
But what makes Adesanya even more dangerous was how he dismantled Paulo Costa in his last title defence. The Brazilian Eraser, normally an aggressor, appeared to have learned not to press too forward against Adesanya and refrained from pressing as normally he would. But that didn’t save him anyway as he found himself on the mat nonetheless after a systematic dismantling in what was an MMA masterclass by Adesanya. The bottom line is, the Stylebender appears to have found a way to knock you the hell out even while you aren’t making mistakes.
But making a mistake is fighting someone who’s way bigger than you are. If ever there was a literal punching above your weight, this has to be it. And a lot of people expect that to be a significant problem for Adesanya. But the Nigerian thinks it’s not.
“It’s just silly to me when people go and add ‘more muscles’ to their frame that they’re not used to,” he said.
“Yes, there is a certain point where it becomes in favour of the other guy, but not this time. I don’t think Blachowicz is going to put on enough weight where he’s going to be a problem for me and if he tries to, he’ll f*ck himself over.”
It’s good to see Izzy confident as ever going into this fight. But if anyone can take the 0 losses away from his MMA record, it’s a savage like Jan Blachowicz. All he needs is one from that storied Polish Power punch and it’s done. But how does he hit a guy that just can’t be hit? We would have to find out come Sunday morning.
Event: UFC 259
Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas
Date and Time: Sunday, 4am (main card).
Showing: DSTV Super Sport Action (Nigeria).