- Israel Adesanya will challenge Jan Blachowicz for the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 259.
- Adesanya will move up in weight in an attempt to become the 8th two-division champion in UFC history.
- The Last Stylebender has opened as a -265 odds on favorite against the champion Blachowicz.
Israel Adesanya’s quest to become double champion now has a timeline.
The UFC’s middleweight champion has been penciled for a UFC 259 title challenge against current 205-pound king Jan Blachowicz. The event will be on March 6, 2021 at a venue still to be determined. UFC President Dana White broke the news to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on Wednesday:
Israel Adesanya will move up to challenge Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title at UFC 259, @danawhite told @bokamotoESPN. pic.twitter.com/FVt5v8BV2o
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) December 31, 2020
If Adesanya beats Blachowicz, he will become the 8th fighter in the history of the UFC to win titles in two different weight classes, joining Randy Couture, B.J. Penn, Conor McGregor, Georges St. Pierre, Daniel Cormier, Amanda Nunes, and Henry Cejudo. He will also be the fifth to hold two belts simultaneously.
Champ vs Champ
It’ll be Champ vs. Champ at UFC 259 on March 6. Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) vs. Jan Blachowicz (@JanBlachowicz) for the 205 title, per Dana White. What happens in this one? pic.twitter.com/sdTRZ6Drnw
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) December 31, 2020
Adesanya will move up in weight to make this champ vs champ fight happen. However, he will be allowed to keep his middleweight belt while doing it. It’s uncertain though whether Adesanya’s plan is to stay at 205-pounds or go back to the middleweight division. We’ve seen the previous double champions vacate one belt and focus one weight class. Only women’s double-champ Amanda Nunes has kept both belts and only Nunes has successfully defended two belts while simultaneously holding them.
The Last Stylebender won the UFC middleweight title by stopping Robert Whitaker in October 2019. He successfully defended the belt twice in 2020, defeating Yoel Romero in a dull five-round decision at UFC 248 last March 7th and stopping Paulo Costa in impressive fashion at UFC 253 last September 27th.
Adesanya still has worthy challengers at 185 pounds in Jared Cannonier, Marvin Vettori, and even Whitaker (again). However, Izzy always envisioned moving up to 205-pounds to challenge Jon Jones, not just fo the belt, but for supremacy in that division. But Jones vacated the title earlier this year, opting to pursue his longtime goal of fighting in the heavyweight division. Blachowicz knocked out Dominick Reyes at UFC 253 to claim the light heavyweight belt.
First Polish Male UFC Champion
Wejście smoka @JanBlachowicz❗? Zaskoczył wszystkich #LegendaryPolishPower pic.twitter.com/LJGH37tWBq
— TVP SPORT (@sport_tvppl) September 28, 2020
While Joanna Jedrzejczyk is the first fighter from Poland to win a title in the UFC, Jan Blachowicz is the first male fighter to win a UFC belt. Blachowicz has been a professional since 2007 and he completed mostly for KSW before joining the UFC in 2014. He was the KSW light heavyweight champion who made two successful title defenses before vacating the belt to join the UFC.
Blachowicz’s Octagon career was off to a rough start with four losses in his first six UFC assignments. But after suffering back to back losses to Alexander Gustafsson and Patrick Cumming, Blachowicz won seven out of his next eight bouts to move to the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight rankings. When Jones deserted the belt, Blachowicz and Dominick Reyes were chosen to fight for the right to be called the new light heavyweight king.
Against Adesanya, Blachowicz has opened as a sizeable +225 betting underdog despite being the champion. Adesanya meanwhile has opened as a -265 odds on favorite at online sportsbook BetOnline. But being a big underdog is nothing new to the Polish knockout artist. Blachowicz entered the Reyes fight as a +215 underdog and he finished the Devastator inside two rounds. Whether he does the same against Adesanya remains to be seen. But given his fight-ending punching power, Blachowicz is worth a good look.