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7:40pm - It wasn't Adesanya's day today, out-muscled and outworked by the big Pole. Stick around for a full wrap.
Israel Adesanya v Jan Blachowicz - Light-heavyweight world championship - Jan Blachowicz wins by unanimous decision.
7:21pm - Jan Blachowicz wins by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45). Blachowicz retains the light heavyweight title and Adesanya suffers his first MMA loss.
Round five - This is the decisive round, whoever wins this one will likely have his hand raised. IA stings a couple of jabs to start. Lands a leg kick. JB struggling to find his target with his counters and he's breathing pretty heavily now. Hands dropping, and IA is taking advantage. Spinning back kick lands for IA, showing some urgency. JB ducks a kick and lands a big double leg takedown. Huge for the Pole. Postures up and lands some shots from above. He's in full guard but still doing work, into half guard he goes. Toiling away with ground and pound, IA trying to keep JB close to limit the range of the shots. JB too heavy on top, controlling this round. Into full mount to close and he unleashes as the fight ends. Let's a scream go as the bell sounds. This will be close.
Round four - Into the championship rounds, we go. Straight into the clinch again, but again JB can't do much with it. JB pumping his jab to good effect. Counter left hook by JB lands. JB shoots and lands the best takedown of the fight, double leg and he's into half guard. Huge test here for IA, this is where JB wants to be. JB staying patient and advancing his position, controlling well and getting off shots. IA working hard off his back but he has a fair chunk of Polish meat on top of him. Into side control now. This is a massive round for JB. Think we are tied at 2-2, round five for all the marbles.
Round three - JB lands a leg kick to start the third. Blachowicz blitzes, two big shots and shoots the double leg takedown. Has the neck briefly but IA spins out of danger, then lands a clean right that hurts JB. JB works back to the clinch, this is what he needs. Leaning IA against the fence, one underhook in. IA does well to disengage. JB stalking now, pumps his jab and lands. IA with jabs of his own, starting to land those with consistency. Back to the leg he goes, JB's lead leg starting to redden. JB snaps IA's head back with a jab. JB ducks a shot and clinches again, presses IA to the fence. IA fights hands and moves back to the middle. I'd give that round to Blachowicz, 2-1 to Adesanya.
Round two - Blachowicz puts plenty into a left hook to open the second, IA evades. JB checking IA's leg kicks well, limiting the damage. IA stings a right but eats a couple of counters from JB. IA looking for the question mark kcik again, JB ducks out of its path. Still no attempt to grapple from JB. Closes the gap and gets his arms wrapped around IA for the first time. IA manages to slip out of harm's way. Big moment there. IA keeps doing work from the outside, utilising that range advantage. JB cops a nut shot. Moves on. Heavy stick and move with the left by IA. JB keeps biting on the feints. IA carefully setting a trap. JB holding his own on the feet but he's still getting outstruck. Needs to change things up here, because IA will cruise to a win if this continues. 2-0 to Adesanya.
Round one - Here we go! Adesanya to the middle, fires off some settling kicks to the leg. Switches stances, finds the leg kick again. JB responds with one of his own. IA goes to the head kick now, JB deflects. IA doubles up on the left hand. JB lunges with a left hand. Cautious start from both fighters. JB throws a kick up top, IA parries it safely. IA stalking now, throws a shot to the body, hand out and measuring his range. IA throwing plenty of feints, JB struggling to make a read. Fires a straight left and then goes to the leg kick again. IA dictating terms early. That's one in the bag for the Kiwi.
6:45pm - You know Bruce Buffer has saved some gas in his tank for these intros. Adesanya stands expressionless with his arms crossed as Buffer screams his name. All business today.
6:42pm - Here comes the Pole, hoody up and finger raised. His career has had a huge resurgence in recent years. Let's see if he can shock the world again by overcoming the highly favoured Kiwi.
6:40pm - Adesanya makes his way into the UFC Apex centre Octagon first, looking as composed as ever.
6:37pm - The moment you've all been waiting for - can 'The Last Stylebender' win a second world championship title? Octagon walks are just moments away.
6:25pm - Hold tight, fight fans. Adesanya is up next.
Amanda Nunes v Megan Anderson - Women's featherweight world championship - Nunes wins by first-round submission
Round one - The Aussie is an enormous underdog here. It would be one of the all-time upsets if she can pull off a win over Nunes, who's undeniably the women's GOAT. Here we go. Significant height advantage here for Anderson, who takes the middle early. Nunes explodes with a heavy overhand right, that had to hurt. Nunes fires another big left, Anderson crumples. Nunes works for an armbar now. There's the tap. Incredible.
6:05pm - Up next is Amanda Nunes against Megan Anderson, a five-round fight for the women's featherweight.
After that, 'The Last Stylebender'.
Petr Yan v Aljamain Sterling - Bantamweight world championship - Sterling wins by disqualification
6:05pm - Bittersweet stuff here for Sterling, who has the belt wrapped around his waist and immediately discards it to the mat, then drops to his knees in tears. He's helped out of the Octagon by his team, he clearly couldn't continue. Yan was ahead on the official scorecards.
6pm - Unbelievable stuff here. There referee has waved off the fight. Yan is about to be disqualified for an illegal knee to hand the title to Sterling.
Round four - Into the championship rounds, we go. Yan with a crafty knee to the body, catches Sterling with a left hook. Sterling goes to the body himself. Lovely straight left from Yan, follows with a body kick. Sterling fails on a takedown, Yan countering with a right. He's doing much more damage with his shots than the American. One-two from Yan finds its mark. Uh oh, looks like an illegal knee from Yan. Sterling clearly had a knee on the mat when that landed, and the referee even warned him. If Sterling decides not to continue here he becomes the new champion. The doctor is in for a look. He doesn't look in great shape here. I think this one could be over.
Round three - Yan out of the gates quickly, Sterling seemed to be rather wary in between rounds, starting to fatigue from this torrid pace. Yan switching stances, having some success with his kicks. Sterling consistently clinching but he's not doing any damage while he's there. Yan unloading with leg kicks, landing plenty this round. Yan gets a late takedown to likely clinch the round. 2-1 to the Russian on my cards.
Round two - Sterling the aggressor early, swept to the mat and encourages Yan to join him there. No chance he takes up that invite. Referee brings him to his feet, and Sterling is straight in with a single leg takedown attenmpt. Yan defending really well against the fence, moves out of danger. Sterling is right back in to the clinch though, grabbing for Yan's leg. Great balance from Yan, who again escapes. Sterling throws his third spinning elbow of the fight so far, no dice. Yan ducks a shot and wins a takedown, gets off some shots from the back as the round finishes. Close round, think Sterling may have edged it.
Round one - Can the 'Funkmaster' wrench the belt away from Yan in the Russian's first attempted defence? We're about to find out. Yan right into his work. Sterling responds swiftly, leaping forward with a flying knee that found half its target. Sterling dictating the pace, has his leg swept by Yan. Another flying knee from Sterling, Yan evades danger. Sterling shoots and wins a takedown, albeit a brief one, as Yan pops up. Down goes Sterling! Pinpoint right hand from Yan. Sterling back to his feet. Yan takes Sterling's back as the round draws to a close. Don't think he wants too much to do with Sterling on the ground. Entertaining opener, that's the champ's round.
5:20pm - Makhachev just earned a top-five fight next with that performance. Massive statement made. Up next is our first title fight, Petr Yan against Aljamain Sterling.
Drew Dober v Islam Makhachev - Makhachev wins by third-round submission
Round three - You guessed it, Makhachev is on the mat and on top. Moves into side control and works shoulder pressure. Transitions into a head and arm triangle and gets the tap. Beautiful stuff.
Round two - Makhachev right back into top control here. Suffocating grappling display from the Russian, as he lets loose with elbows. Another round in the bag for the Russian.
Round one - Makhachev is a huge favourite for this one, the next big thing out of Russia. He scores an early takedown with ease and quickly moves into half guard. Into full mount now, terrible position for Dober. The American scrambles his way out of mount, but Makhachev immediately transitions to the back. Jumps an arm bar, Dober just holding on here, and he's saved by the bell. Dominant round for the Russian.
4:55pm - The champ is in the building! We're looking at approximately 6:30pm (NZT) for 'The Last Stylebender' to take the Octagon.
4:45pm - Drew Dober v Islam Makhachev is up next, before we hit the trio of title fights.
Thiago Santos v Aleksander Rakic - Rakic wins by unanimous decision
4:41pm - Here comes the judges' decision - and it's Rakic who has his hand raised on three 29-28 scorecards. Neither fighter separated themselves from the pack with those peformances.
Round three - Rakic controlling the middle but being very tentative with his shots. Shoots for a takedown and eats some elbows for his troubles. Santos gets some knees off in the clinch. Neither fighter really prepared to take a risk here, and the bout limps to a disappointing end. Rakic wins, I suppose.
Round two - Rakic takes the centre early. Suprising that he's yet to attempt a takedown to try and work his supreme grappling game. Rakic accumulating points with leg kicks, ties up Santos briefly against the cage. Low action bout so far, second round likely in Rakic's favour.
Round one - Rakic getting off early, making use of his reach advantage while establishing his range. Rakic pressing the action, Santos blitzes but can't find the mark with his shots. Santos catches a leg kick and comes over the top with a huge left hand. Cautious opening from both men, really tight round. Slight edge to Rakic.
4:10pm - A juicy light heavyweight title fight to get the pay-per-view started between the Brazilian and the Austrian.
The winner should become the division's No.1 contender to take on whoever emerges from the main event clash between Adesanya and Blachowicz.
4pm - Cruz is declared the winner via split decision, and we're off to the main card.
3:48pm - Cruz showcasing his awkward, unpredictable style to excellent effect in his first bout since May 2020. Should be up two rounds heading into the final stanza.
3:28pm - Yadong and Phillips go the distance in a fast-paced fight, and it's Phillips who has his hand raised in a unanimous decision win.
Dominick Cruz and Casey Kenney will close out the preliminary card next, then we're into the pay-per-view action.
3:10pm - Two more bouts before we hit the main card, starting with Song Yadong against Kyler Phillips.
2:45pm - What a win for Kara-France, showing incredible determination to fend off the expert grappling of Bontorin and score a buzzer-beater KO. Click here for a full wrap.
Kai Kara-France v Rogerio Bontorin - Kara-France wins by first-round TKO
Round one - Here we go. KKF takes the middle of the Octagon early. Lands a clean inside leg kick and springs back out of range. KKF wants to keep this standing. Bontorin lunges with two heavy shots, KKF deflects. Bontorin shoots a single leg takedown, pounces to the back and KKF is in trouble here. KKF fighting hands well but Bontorin has the body triangle locked. Bontorin tries to soften KKF up with shots to get his arm under the Kiwi's chin. KKF gets back to his feet but Bontorin piggybacks with him, somehow KKF holds out as he slams Bontorin on to his back. The Brazilian is still tight on the back, and KKF finally manages to slip him off from the top. Fantastic defence. Huge right hand KKF! Follows with an uppercut and another hook. Bontorin drops to the mat and that's all she wrote! Referee steps in to stop the fight.
Confusion as KKF walks away with hands raised thining he has a walk-off KO, referee Herb Dean is late to make his stoppage clear and KKF rushes back over thinking he has more work to do. Bontorin doesn;t appreciate it, and hurls his mouthguard at the Kiwi.
2:10pm - 'Don't Blink' will get the preliminary undercard started with a showdown against livewire Rogerio Bontorin. Buckle up.
1:57pm - Tim Elliott has just completed a unanimous decision win over Jordan Espinosa.
NZ's Kai Kara-France is just moments away. Stay tuned.
Carlos Ulberg v Kennedy Nzechukwu - Nzechukwu wins by second-round TKO
For a full fight wrap, click here.
1:20pm - Nzechukwu did incredibly well to fight his way back into the contest, after eating all manner of shots early from Ulberg.
The Kiwi seemed in too much of a hurry to score a quick finish, and once fatigue set in his defence went with it.
Either way, that was highly entertaining.
Round two - Ulberg looked fatigued at the end of that round. This could be interesting. Ulberg more discerning with his shots now, picking and choosing and putting them on the mark, slipping away from Nzechukwu's counters. Nzechukwu catches him with a one-two, Ulberg responds with a thudding body kick. Nzechukwu cops an eye poke, takes a moment to regather himself. Back into it, and Ulberg unleashes a three-shot combo that ends with a kick. Nzechukwu eating plenty of shots here, the kid is durable. Ulberg goes down! Caught with a perfectly placed righht hand, Nzechukwu moves in wth shots from the top and Herb Dean steps in. This one is over. Huge upset.
Round one - Buffer's done with the intros, let's dance. Nzechukwu presses early but Ulberg is quickly throwing shots, all array of kicks and a big one catches Nzechukwu. He's already covered up. Ulberg mixing in punches with his kicks masterfully, Nzechukwu has barely fired a shot. Ulberg clearly the much faster fighter. Nzechukwu starts to attack but it's very laboured. Nzechukwu puts a couple on Ulberg, but he Kiwi counters well. Pace picking up here, Ulberg slowing down a tad, as Nzechukwu catches him with a left. Ulberg rips some heavy body shots, Nzechukwu covering up against the fence and just eating blows to the body. Brutal. Nzechukwu strikes back now, the output here is insane. That will do us for round one, Ulberg has one in the bag.
1:05pm - Ulberg makes his Octagon walk to OMC's 'How Bizarre', the unofficial NZ anthem.
1:01pm - "You'll soon see - I'll be the light heavyweight world champion," says Ulberg in his pre-fight promo. You love to hear it.
12:59pm - Adesanya sneaks in with a small promo for his teammate Ulberg: "He's a bad motherf**ker".
12:52pm - "Women want him, men want to be him," says UFC commentator Jon Anik, as he introduces Ulberg. Hard to argue with that.
12:45pm - Rough outing for Australian Jake Matthews, as Sean Brady grapples him to death, before finishing him off with an arm triangle choke. Don't go anywehere, NZ's Ulberg is up next!
12:35pm - The 'Black Jag' looking typically composed, as he prepares to make his first official Octagon walk in approximately 20 minutes.
12:20pm - Superb start to today's action courtesy of Trevin Jones and Uros Medic, who both earned TKO finishes in their respective bouts. Here's hoping that sets the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
Aussie Jake Matthews is up next, looking to extend his three-fight win streak against American Sean Brady.
After that, we'll be into the first of the Kiwi trio, with Carlos Ulberg against Kennedy Nzcechukwu.
Kia ora and welcome to live updates of UFC 259 from Las Vegas, where Kiwi middleweight world champion Israel Adesanya will attempt to add a second belt to his collection by beating Jan Blachowicz to claim the light heavyweight strap.
Flyweight Kai Kara-France also returns to the Octagon to take on Rogerio Bontorin, while Carlos Ulberg makes his UFC debut against Kennedy Nzcechukwu.
Approximate fight times for the Kiwi City Kickboxing contingent (NZ time):
Carlos Ulberg - 1pm
Kai Kara-France - 2pm
Israel Adesanya - 6:30pm
Updates will begin at approximately 12:30pm. In the meantime, check out our breakdown and predictions for the New Zealanders and the title fights.
Israel Adesanya v Jan Blachowicz
Amanda Nunes v Megan Anderson
Petr Yan v Aljamain Sterling
Islam Makhachev v Drew Dober
Thiago Santos v Aleksander Rakic
Dominick Cruz v Casey Kenney
Song Yadong v Kyler Philips
Joseph Benavidez v Askar Askarov
Kai Kara-France v Rogerio Bontorin
Tim Elliott v Jordan Espinosa
Carlos Ulberg v Kennedy Nzechukwu
Sean Brady v Jake Matthews
Livia Renata Souza v Amanda Lemos
Uros Medic v Aalon Cruz
'It's legacy': Israel Adesanya prepares for shot at MMA immortality against Jan Blachowicz
By Stephen Foote
Kiwi UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has never been one to question his own capabilities as a fighter and he insists he won't be doing the same of Jan Blachowicz.
On Sunday (NZ time), 'The Last Stylebender' will square off with the light-heavyweight champion at UFC 259 in Las Vegas to become just the fifth fighter in the promotion's history to hold simultaneous world titles - a feat that would earn him a place in the pantheon of mixed martial arts.
But the undefeated 31-year-old warns not to mistake his brash demeanour for over-confidence.
While fellow fighters, pundits, fans and bookies across the planet all-but write off Blachowicz's chances of defending his title for the first time, Adesanya is much warier of what the veteran brings to the Octagon.
"I see a bit of [the talk]," says Adesanya. "But I think everyone's counting Jan out and everyone's kind of just dismissing him... like, 'that's it, he's going to get slept' and what have you.
"I think they're mistaken. I take him very seriously."
After a shaky start to his UFC tenure back in 2015, Blachowicz (27-8) has developed beyond his initial pigeon-holing as a one-dimensional grappler with a big right hand into a fearsome striker with genuine one-punch knockout power.
The 38-year-old is riding a four-fight win streak that includes three early stoppages caused by that power, capped with a jaw-bending KO of Dominick Reyes in their clash for the vacant title at UFC 253 in September.
Adesanya headlined that same event in Abu Dhabi, defending his title against Paulo Costa with a dominant second-round knockout of his own.
While he respects Blachowicz's threats, he suggests the blueprint to beat him almost writes itself.
"It's pretty obvious when you see it," he says. "He fights coming forward.
"He doesn't like to fight backwards. He's got a good grappling game, so we'll take advantage of all that we can."
Adesanya has fought at heavier weight classes during his kickboxing and boxing days, winning the King in the Ring at heavyweight, and is well versed in the different impact of shots at that level.
He also regularly spars against larger opponents, including City Kickboxing teammate Carlos Ulberg, who'll make his light-heavyweight debut on the undercard of Sunday's event.
"You definitely feel the difference in power with glancing shots when they hit you or your arm," he notes. "But also you feel the difference in speed.
"They're a lot slower. They take a little while to get to their target, put it that way.
"The pace is a lot different at that weight and it's fun for me."
In the build-up to the bout, Blachowicz has been vocal about his 'Polish power', the likes of which he's adamant Adesanya has never experienced.
But the deadly silver lining to that equation for Blachowicz is speed, where Adesanya and his otherworldly, dance-influenced footwork could prove a nightmare for him to contend with.
Possessing power is one thing, but getting within range to inflict it is another altogether, especially against the rangey Adesanya, who - despite stepping up a division - will have a 5cm advantage in both height and reach.
Closing the distance is still the most fundamental starting point to overcoming the Kiwi-Nigerian, but - as his previous 20 opponents will attest - it's much easier said.
"He talks about the 'legendary Polish power', but everyone has power," says Adesanya. "I just don't want to get touched by anyone.
"Same with Paulo... I didn't get touched by him once - not once - and he's a lot faster than [Blachowicz].
The one relative unknown with Adesanya during his nine-fight tear through the middleweight division has been the question mark over how he'd fare against a large, strong grappler and Blachowicz clearly fits that mould.
"Every single fight, we anticipate that one opponent that's going to be able to close that gap and put us into territory that we haven't necessarily been in so much," says Adesanya's head trainer, Eugene Bareman.
"We prepare for that, we expect that and then it never happens, because Israel is just too good at controlling that distance.
"This fight, we have that same expectation, that Jan is going to be the guy - with his physicality and his size - to finally be able to close the distance and push Israel against the cage, and maybe even take Israel down.
"We've definitely prepared for those facets of the game."
Fresh from earning his purple belt in Brazlian jiu-jitsu, while training under Andre Galvao in San Diego, Adesanya looks forward to dispelling the myth that he has a weakness on the mat.
"I was there for five weeks and my BJJ went all the way up," he says. "It's a deceptive thing.
"If you want to jump in the pit - 'the hole in my game' - you want to see how deep that hole goes, then be my guest. By the time they find out it's a trap, it'll be too late.
"I look forward to using my grappling at some point. I do want to choke someone out, but they just keep getting knocked out."
Should he get his hand raised on Sunday, Adesanya - now the world's No.3-ranked pound-for-pound fighter - will have added another chapter to his storied UFC tenure, which is still barely three years old.
It will also boost his already substantial earning power. Adesanya is one of the UFC's most heavily marketed athletes and recently signed a lucrative sponsorship deal with sportswear brand Puma.
"It's like doing something most men in the UFC, let alone the world, have done," Adesanya says of the opportunity in front of him. "Doing it while I'm in my prime, while I'm active, while I'm gunning for everyone.
"But again, cheddar makes it better."
By his side since Adesanya was just a Whanganui kid with a dream, Bareman admits the entire situation feels surreal.
He's still coming to grips with the magnitude of the stakes on offer in Sin City, where an Adesanya win will propel his star in the stratosphere.
"When I think about it it bewilders me a little bit," Bareman says. "This is massive, this is absolutely massive.
"It's not boxing, where there's a myriad of weight classes separated by a few pounds. There's only a few weight classes, and you have to go up or down significantly to get that next belt.
"Part of it is him cementing his pace in history, part of it is him doing something that people think he can't do - that's the kind of philosophy that he's lived his life by and it's just fun to be a part of it."
For Adesanya, who has the luxury of not having to cut any weight for this bout, it's all business as usual, insisting the step-up in weight class will have no impact on his preparations.
"I'm still going to eat clean, fight week," he says. "I'm still going to jump in the sauna fight week... I'll just be able to drink water in the sauna, that's all.
"But I'm not going to differ from anything I normally do. I'm going to keep the same energy, keep the same routine, just so my brain knows what it's doing.
"Same shit, different fight."