Jan Blachowicz beat the previously undefeated Adesanya by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45) to retain his light heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 259.
Adesanya, the UFC middleweight champion, was attempting to become just the fifth fighter in UFC history to hold two titles concurrently.
“It didn’t go exactly the way I wanted it to go, but dare to be great,” Adesanya said. “You know, the critics are the ones on the sideline, but I’m the one putting it on the line.”
The story of the fight leading in was that Blachowicz would have a significant size advantage.
Adesanya tipped the scales at 200.5 pounds during Friday’s weigh-in, 4.5 pounds under the 205-pound limit for a light heavyweight title fight. Blachowicz weighed 205 pounds and said he planned on competing Saturday at 220 pounds.
Adesanya, who typically competes in the 185-pound division, likely didn’t gain much weight since weigh-ins, meaning Blachowicz would be about 20 pounds heavier in the Octagon.
“Size is always a factor when you move up a weight class in this sport,” UFC president Dana White said. “It was definitely a factor. Weight was a factor. When you move up a weight class like that, strength is a factor.
How hard these guys hit is a factor. And Jan is the real deal.”
That size disparity paid dividends for Blachowicz. The Polish fighter took over the fight late with big takedowns in the fourth and fifth rounds.
Adesanya seemed to be building some momentum in the fourth when Blachowicz exploded in for a double-leg takedown. Both times, Adesanya could not get up. While Blachowicz didn’t do a ton of damage on the mat, he held Adesanya there very effectively and sprinkled in some punches.
As the clock was expiring to end the fight, Blachowicz finally landed some hard hammerfists and advanced into full mount. The final flurry all but sealed the bout.
“When I took him to the ground, he felt the difference between his category and [light heavyweight],” Blachowicz said
Adesanya said it was Blachowicz’s defensive skills, not his size, that might have been the difference Saturday night.
“I wouldn’t say size, because I can hurt big dudes,” he said. “I think it was just his defense. He was really tight with his defense and smart with his defense.”
Judges Derek Cleary and Sal D’Amato gave Blachowicz every round except for the third, and Cleary gave Blachowicz a 10-8 in the fifth. Judge Junichiro Kamijo gave Blachowicz every round except the second and also scored the fifth 10-8 for him.
Blachowicz had a 107-78 edge in significant strikes, outlanding Adesanya in every round, including 28-12 in the fifth. (ESPN)