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Blachowicz ends Adesanya’s champ-champ quest, Nunes stays on top

There was no shortage of action from start to finish in the stacked UFC 259 as Jan Blachowicz (28-8) retained his UFC light heavyweight title with a unanimous decision victory over middleweight champion Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya (20-1) on Saturday, March 6 (Sunday, March 7, Philippine time) at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Blachowicz ended the unbeaten run and the champ-champ quest of Adesanya, who effectively controlled his distance and striking in the first 3 rounds of the fight and even looked to take over at some point in the 4th round.

While the Polish champion connected power shots early to match Adesanya’s technical striking, it was his massive takedowns and his ground and pound in the championship rounds that gave him the edge in the scorecards.

This was Blachowicz’s first title defense since winning the vacant 205-pound title back in September when he knocked out Dominick Reyes in the 2nd round. 

“I’m a true champion, I deserve what I got,” Blachowicz said. “It was a hard job for me tonight, but I do my best. We did almost everything, what we prepared for him in the gym we did in the fight. I’m happy. I won the fight and what we do works in the fight.” 

Blachowicz, who started his UFC career with a 2-4 record but now won 9 of his last 10 fights, said he will now look forward to fighting the No. 1 light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira.

“I want to fight Glover next because he deserves it,” he said. “ He’s not so young so he doesn’t have much time and I want to fight him when he’s in good shape.”

Adesanya, on the other hand, expressed his interest to fight once again in the light heavyweight division but wants to defend his middleweight crown first.

“It’s not a one-off, I will definitely be back [in light heavyweight],” Adesanya said. “Dare to be great, I’m going back to 185, and I’m gonna roll there with my iron black fist.”

In the co-main event, the greatest of all time Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes (21-4) graced the octagon with her presence and finished Megan Anderson (11-5) via submission in the opening round of the fight to defend the women’s featherweight title.

Nunes, who also holds the women’s bantamweight crown, had a flawless performance and stunned Anderson with a pair of right hooks and a left jab before finishing Anderson on the ground with an armbar.

“For every opponent, I have a strategy,” Nunes said. “You have to be ready, so for Megan, I wanted to finish her, I didn’t want to knock her out. I paced myself. I saw she was done already but I wanted to finish the fight on the floor with my jiu-jitsu.”

This is the 12th straight victory for Nunes, her first since becoming a mother.

The bantamweight title fight ended in a very anticlimactic way as Aljamain “Funk Master” Sterling (20-3) was hailed as the new champion of the 135-pound division after the disqualification of Petr “No Mercy” Yan (15-2).

The bout was called off in the 4th round after Yan threw an illegal knee straight to the head of the grounded Sterling, who looked out of shape after the hit.

“That’s not the way I wanted to win,” said Sterling. “I wanted to continue. The fight was fast-paced, it was a lot of action, I know the fans were enjoying that. This was potentially going to be one of the fights of the year or one of the greatest bantamweight fights in history for the title.”

Sterling asserted non-stop pressure from the get-go and connected a couple of flying knees in Yan’s head. But Yan shrugged it off and knocked down his challenger with a right hand to gain the momentum before the 1st round ended.

The next two rounds turned into a grappling contest as Sterling kept looking to wrestle, while Yan found more success with his trip takedowns. 

Before the bout ended in the championship round, Yan punished the gassed-out Sterling and started to land more clean strikes. Yan, then, defended another takedown attempt and threw out the illegal knee while Sterling is still on the ground.

Yan was leading in the scorecards, 29-28, 29-28, 28-29, before the bout was called off.

After hearing the final decision, Sterling removed the belt from his waist and left it inside the octagon.

“That’s not the way I envisioned this,” he said. “I just took the belt off. I was trying to continue even being like that, I was in a bad shape and it would just have been ego taking over and just to get further punishment.” 

“Sorry fans. Sorry that the fight went like this. I hope we get to run it back, do it again and give you the fight you guys deserve,” Sterling added.

Sterling is the first fighter in UFC history to win the title due to disqualification.

Meanwhile, Islam Makhachev (19-1) threw his name on the long list of potential lightweight title contenders as he grabbed his seventh straight win by submitting Drew Rober (23-10) in the 3rd round of their bout. 

The 29-year-old Russian prospect displayed an absolute clinic on the ground then wrapped up the bout with a slick arm-triangle choke. Right after the fight, Makhachev also called out for Tony Ferguson, who recently lost to Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira.

“My dream fight is Tony Ferguson,” Makhachev said. “That’s my dream fight. I just want to make him retire. He talks too much. Khabib [Nurmagomedov] is retired, now he keeps pressuring him, for what? I’m here, I have a seven-fight win streak, make this happen.” –