UFC 259 is kicking off March with a bang as three titles will be put on the line at light-heavyweight, women’s featherweight and bantamweight this weekend.
As always with Vegas-based cards, it means a late night or a very early morning for Irish fight fans, but if you’re planning on staying up, we’ve got you covered with access details below.
Let’s have a look at some of the big bouts coming up.
Israel Adesanya v Jan Blachowicz (Light heavyweight)
We’ve long spoken about it on All Things MMA, but when it comes to modern era fighters looking to cement their legacy in the spot, the bar seems to be set at claiming titles at different weight-classes, better still if you can attain ‘champ-champ’ status. Conor McGregor managed it at featherweight and lightweight, Henry Cejudo at flyweight and bantamweight, Amanda Nunes is still rocking it at 135 and 145.
Now, Israel Adesanya has a chance to double up as the current undefeated middleweight champion steps up on Saturday night to take on light-heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz.
It was long-touted that ‘Stylebender’ would make his move up, largely in pursuit of Jon Jones at 205, but with Jones moving up to heavyweight, that fight is off the cards for the moment. Should we see Adesanya emerge victorious, with Jones not yet booked for a heavyweight showing, the money fight would be those two squaring off.
First, Adesanya needs to get past Blachowicz in what will be the Polish powerhouse’s first title defence having picked up the 205 strap with a convincing demolition of Dominick Reyes at UFC 253 last September.
While Reyes looked poor that night having pushed Jon Jones the distance in his own title-shot, there’s no denying that Blachowicz is packing serious power and has the striking ability to make things a tough night for Adesanya. He’s dropped just one bout in his last nine and comes into Saturday on the back of a four-fight win streak.
Adesanya has yet to taste defeat, his last action an equally convincing demolition of an off-form and undefeated Paolo Costa, and at 20-0 over his professional career, he simply looks better and brighter with each encounter.
When we looked at the fight recently on All Things MMA, we’ve got Myles gunning for Blachowicz in the second or third round but there’s no denying it should be an exciting encounter.
Amanda Nunes v Megan Anderson (Featherweight)
As a former Invicta FC featherweight champion, Megan Anderson believes she is the first true featherweight that will bring the power to dethrone Nunes at 145, Nunes holding the title since her dismantling of Cris Cyborg before her departure from the UFC to Bellator and unbeaten in general since 2014.
Confident in handling her business this weekend, the bookmakers would disagree with the current women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes a -1000 favourite (Vegas odds, read as 1/10) with Anderson backed at 13/2 to cause the upset.
Ourselves and the MMA community on a whole would be quite surprised to see the result go any way other than a win for Nunes – whether she looks to get out quick or do what’s she’s done of late, go the full five rounds and look like she’s got room for another five in the tank.
If you haven’t seen Nunes fight previously, or recently, it may be worth catching this one regardless of the odds as we reckon she won’t have much left the UFC and will very much go out at the top of the game.
Petr Yan v Aljamain Sterling (Bantamweight)
The 135 division in the UFC is a hot-bed of activity at the minute and it’s possible we’ll see this title change hand on Saturday night or even again later this year.
Petr Yan is the current holder with Aljo Sterling working his way up the ranks in recent years for a well-earned crack at UFC gold. Waiting in the wings are the likes of Cory Sandhagen, even TJ Dillashaw if things go his way.
The Russian (15-1) claimed the vacant title with a fifth-round finish over José Aldo last summer, the encounter with Sterling this weekend marking his first title defence and a chance to cement his position at the top of the 135 pecking order.
Sterling is on his own tear for the past three years, clearing out Brett Johns, Cody Stamann, Jimmie Rivera, Pedro Munhoz and next-in-line Cory Sandhagen who cleaned out Frankie Edgar earlier this year.
We’re on the fence for this one; Myles reckons Yan has it in the bag, Ken reckons Sterling has it in the bag, but we’re both expecting this one to be fast and furious.
How to watch UFC 259
So, UFC 259 takes place this weekend, on Saturday 6 March from 11pm Irish time, or 3pm Vegas time for the early prelims.
Early prelim fights: 11pm Saturday, online via UFC Fight Pass
Prelim fights: 1am Sunday, online via UFC Fight Pass and BT Sport 2
Main card: 3am Sunday, BT Sport 2 and online via BT Sport
If you don’t have BT Sport 2 as part of your TV subscription, you can get a 30-day pass to the entire BT Sport network online for £25/€29 where you can watch through the BT app or web player.
UFC 259 Fight Card
Outside of the three title fights above, there’s a few more standout bouts this weekend, least of all Islam Makhachev’s lightweight contest with Drew Dober on the main card and Dominick Cruz topping the prelim card against slight-favourite Casey Kenney at bantamweight.
Jan Blachowicz v Israel Adesanya (UFC Light Heavyweight Title)
Amanda Nunes v Megan Anderson (UFC Women’s Featherweight Title)
Peter Yan v Aljamain Sterling (UFC Bantamweight Title)