Israel Adesanya was daring to be great, attempting to become the UFC's latest double champion.
Well, Jan Błachowicz made sure that didn't happen. Błachowicz used his grappling and scored two late takedowns to secure a unanimous decision victory over Adesanya to retain his light heavyweight title Saturday night. Judges at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas scored it 49-46, 49-45 and 49-45 all in favor of Błachowicz. DAZN News had it closer, as a 48-47 fight for Blachowicz.
"Polish Power" handed "The Last Stylebender" his first MMA loss by turning up his grappling in the fourth and fifth rounds. Each of those rounds had Błachowicz notching a big takedown and weighing down on Adesanya, who couldn't wriggle free.
"If I'd knocked him out, it would be better, but anyway, I love this win because he's one of the best in the world," Blachowicz said following his victory. "Now, I'm one of the best in the world. I'm the first one to defeat him, so that's really good. A lot of respect for him."
And with the victory, Blachowicz believes respect should be heaped onto his name as well.
"Now, I think I deserve respect," he said following his first title defense. "I'm the true champion right now."
Blachowicz certainly does deserve respect. Adesanya came out looking all too comfortable in the first round, keeping a healthy distance and tagging Blachowicz with some early shots. The next two rounds were a lot closer and could've gone either way. However, Blachowicz made sure the fourth and fifth rounds — and subsequently, the bout — belonged to him, and he did it with his grappling.
Blachowicz secured a takedown with three minutes left in the fourth round and kept Adesanya on the mat until the frame ended. At about the halfway mark of the fifth and final round, Blachowicz took Adesanya down again — this time additionally scoring with elbows and punches.
The late wrestling was enough to have Blachowicz' hand raised as he expressed his desire to face Glover Teixeira next.
Meanwhile, Adesanya took his first MMA loss in stride.
"It didn't go the way I wanted it to go, but dare to be great," Adesanya said. "The critics are the ones on the sidelines, but I'm the one putting it on the line."
UFC 259 FIGHT CARD
- Jan Błachowicz (c) def. Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45) to retain light heavyweight title
- Amanda Nunes (c) def. Megan Anderson by first-round submission (armbar) to retain women's featherweight title
- Aljamain Sterling def. Petr Yan due to intentional foul disqualification (illegal knee from Yan) to win bantamweight title
- Islam Makhachev def. Drew Dober via third-round submission (arm triangle); Lightweight
- Aleksandar Rakić def. Thiago Santos by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28); Light Heavyweight
Preliminary card results
- Dominick Cruz def. Casey Kenney by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29); Bantamweight
- Kyler Phillips def. Song Yadong via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28); Bantamweight
- Askar Askarov def. Joseph Benavidez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26); Flyweight
- Kai Kara-France def. Rogério Bontorin via first-round TKO (punches); Flyweight