Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya was stopped short in his quest to become double champ last evening when Jan Blachowicz successfully defended the Light Heavyweight belt at UFC 259. Blachowicz closed as a 2-to-1 betting underdog for the second outing in a row but emerged victorious yet again. For Blachowicz, the unanimous decision marked his first title defense at 205 after beating Dominick Reyes for the title at UFC 253.
It’s not controversial to say that the win over Adesanya was the biggest of Jan’s impressive MMA career. The victory marked 11 UFC wins for Jan Blachowicz and the first professional MMA loss for “Stylebender.”
Adesanya was expected by many to become the fifth double champion in UFC history and defeat Blachowicz. He cleared out the upper echelon of the middleweight division with decisive knockout wins over Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa, to go along with a wild decision win over Kelvin Gastelum. Stylebender has long hyped up a fight with Jon Jones, but that speculation has cooled significantly with the loss.
In addition to the betting lines and overall fan support, the commentary team appeared biased towards Adesanya at times. They kept marveling at Adesanya’s feints and made it seem as though Jan was losing rounds that were either razor close, or even Blachowicz rounds. Despite many believing that Adesanya’s speed would edge out Jan’s “Polish Power”, Blachowicz was able to keep pace and match Adesanya’s output start to finish. Adesanya had moments in the fight, but he was never able to get his signature rhythm going.
A very humble Blachowicz seemed to feel a bit disrespected in his post-fight interview. “Now I think I deserve respect, I am the true champion right now,” Blachowicz said to Joe Rogan. He also gave props to Adesanya and stated that he would like to defend the belt against Glover Teixeira next after some time off. “He deserves it,” Blachowicz said of Teixeira, who has been on a great run at 41 years-old. Teixeira has won five in a row at 205, matching the current champ’s win streak.
For Blachowicz, that current winning streak includes wins over Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo Souza and Corey Anderson, in addition to the victories over Reyes and Adesanya in championship fights. His last loss came against Thiago Santos back in February, 2019, which is Jan’s only loss since 2017.
Blachowicz’s 8-1 record in that timeframe highlights that MMA is a sport where late bloomers can happen. The now 38 year-old started out 2-6 in the UFC before going on this current run. He also had a solid career with Poland’s KSW prior to his UFC run, which is one of the most competitive MMA promotions in the world. Blachowicz won KSW’s light heavyweight tournament and also defended the belt outright twice before joining the UFC in 2014. Runs like that of Blachowicz are rare, if not unheard of in boxing.