Israel Adesanya suffers first loss of MMA career against Jan Blachowicz

Author
Patrick McKendry, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 8 Mar 2021, 12:45PM
Jan Blachowicz lands a punch against Israel Adesanya. Photo / Getty
Jan Blachowicz lands a punch against Israel Adesanya. Photo / Getty

Israel Adesanya suffers first loss of MMA career against Jan Blachowicz

Author
Patrick McKendry, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 8 Mar 2021, 12:45PM

He was after a big challenge and Israel Adesanya certainly found it in the form of UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz, a fighter who made the most of his size advantage to earn a unanimous points victory over the New Zealander in Las Vegas.

The Polish man dominated the final two rounds of UFC 259's main event with two takedowns that Adesanya, who gave up at least 10kg to his opponent, didn't look like ever escaping.

The three judges scored it to Blachowicz by a wide margin; one by 49-46 and two by 49-45.

Asked afterwards if the fight went as he expected, Adesanya, the UFC world middleweight champion, replied: "Not exactly - I thought I was going to win.

"Dare to be great … there are warriors on the sidelines, but I'm the one putting it on the line."

Adesanya retains his middleweight title but loses his perfect record in his attempt to join only five others to hold two divisional titles simultaneously. He drops to 20-1.

While he troubled Blachowicz with his movement and constant feints, and scored with low kicks and left hooks during the first three rounds in particular, he conceded: "The size might have been a factor."

Adesanya, considered the exciting striker in the UFC, refused to rule out fighting again at light heavyweight, however, but said for now he will return to the middleweight division.

The first three rounds were close but the judges awarded only one to Adesanya, perhaps reflecting the heavier shots thrown by the cautious Pole, who began to get closer to the Kiwi in terms of range as the fight wore on.

Once he decided to go to the ground, the fight changed completely however, and that extra weight was evident. In the fourth round, Blachowicz succeeded in a takedown with three minutes left, and in the fifth he was successful midway through. They were enough to prove his dominance to the judges.

But rather than appear two dimensional until then as perhaps predicted, Blachowicz impressed with his striking and imagination. It was the first defence of his title.

"I thought he would be a little bit faster," he said afterwards. "He was a little slower but he hit harder; that is something I didn't expect.

"I knew if I took him down I'd be better on the ground. Everyone knows he's not that good on the ground like me."

However, Blachowicz, who was breathing heavily in the final round, added: "A lot of respect for him because he's a great fighter and a great person."

On the undercard, Adesanya's City Kickboxing teammates Kai Kara-France beat Rogerio Bontorin via a first-round knockout, while Carlos Ulberg lost to Kennedy Nzechukwu by a second-round TKO.

Flyweight Kara-France had been dominated by his opponent – he spent about three minutes on his back desperately trying to avoid a submission - but in the final 20 seconds of the round connected with three powerful right hands for a spectacular finish.

"I just had to stay calm. I've been in this sport for so many years now and I just wanted to show my experience," Kara-France said. "Mark Hunt walk-off - vintage. Let's go," he added.