Israel Adesanya’s bid to become a new light heavy weight champion failed as Jan Blachowicz handed him his first career defeat by bouncing back from a slow start to win on points and retain the light heavyweight title at UFC 259
Jan Blachowicz bounced back from a slow start to outpoint Israel Adesanya and retain his light-heavyweight title after an enthralling tactical battle at UFC 259 in Las Vegas on Saturday.
The 38-year-old Blachowicz (28-8) made his first title defence in impressive style by outworking Adesanya (20-1), the fearsome 185-pound champion moving up for a shot at history.
The Polish champion used his size advantage and veteran savvy, taking control of their fight with two huge takedowns and subsequent ground control in the fourth and fifth rounds.
Blachowicz won 49-46 on two judges’ scorecards and 49-45 on the third. He ended the fight in full mount while raining down punches on Adesanya, who had never lost in a mixed martial arts career that began in 2012.
The charismatic Nigerian-born New Zealander was gunning to become only the fifth ‘champ champ’ – the holder of a world title in more than one division – by adding Blachowicz’s light-heavyweight belt to his middleweight one.
But he fell short against the Pole and failed to join the elite group of Nunes, Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo. Adesanya took his first setback in stride.
‘Losses are part of life,’ Adesanya said. ‘This is just my first one in MMA. If I was going to lose to anyone, what better guy to lose to than a guy like Jan?
‘Classy champion, cool dude, nice guy. He has a great story to tell. From almost getting cut from the UFC, he becomes a champion and hands this guy, a future legend, his first loss.’
Adesanya appeared to be the sharper, more aggressive striker in the early rounds, but Blachowicz countered the onslaught with his own strikes and eventually implemented his game plan.