The stage appears set for Israel Adesanya to become the double champion. He is the new poster boy of the UFC and the striking phenom is expected to simply walk up a division and take Jan Blachowicz’s belt, but the closer you look at this match-up the more intriguing it is.
Adesanya’s range has been his greatest ally with flawless technique to accentuate his striking to the fullest but he will only have a two-inch arm and minimal half-inch leg reach advantage.
Blachowicz has proven so many people wrong in his last fights and he has always known for being a super durable grappler, but his recent knockouts prove he is a threat here. He does not just have a powerful left hand, he is a diverse and technical southpaw with polished kicks.
Ideally, Blachowicz will want to utilise his weight, power and grappling advantage but he will have to be very strategic and use his striking to close the distance. Adesanya is so illusive and if you shoot in, he will be waiting to clip the chin with one of his eight limbs so Blachowicz needs to threaten with his kicks and hope he can corner him against the fence and tie him up in the clinch.
Adesanya is still young in the game and his takedown defence is still improving and as we saw in his fight with Derek Brunson, he slipped out of the takedown attempts effortlessly and countered like a sniper. Blachowicz is not an out-and-out wrestler like Brunson but his underrated striking is crucial to setting up takedowns or catching Adesanya off guard by striking out of the clinch like he did to Rockhold.
However, Adesanya will be prepared for this and his composure will be key to sliding out of trouble and controlling the range. Blachowicz’s striking is great but nowhere near Adesanya’s level and unless the Pole can stun him with body kicks or his left hand, Adesanya will have all the space he needs to avoid any takedowns and play with his food.
Jan Blachowicz (27-8) has been awarded the glamourous superfight for his first light heavyweight title defence. A nice story and good timing for the Pole who’s only loss in his last nine fights was a knockout to Thiago Santos back in 2019. That loss has broken up a sensational streak and he has won his last four with not only quality names but beautiful knockouts. He bounced back from the loss with that glorious left hook to floor Luke Rockhold, followed it up with a split decision over Jacare Souza and is now coming off two more knockouts. He folded Corey Anderson like laundry and then walked down the striker Dominick Reyes and finished him off with that sharp left hand to claim the vacant title.
Israel Adesanya (20-0) had a lot to prove entering the UFC. The kickboxer was 11-0 and completely unproven at the elite level of MMA but in the space of just three years he has risen through a tank of middleweight sharks and has already made two defences of his middleweight title. He took the torch from Anderson Silva two years ago and then earned the interim title against Kelvin Gastelum proving he can win a five-round war. He has not looked back since then and made shockingly easy work of the worthy champion Robert Whittaker with a knockout and then eased past Yoel Romero in an uneventful decision. He is now coming of his most impressive performance where many believed Paulo Costa would give him his hardest test but as we predicted, he schooled the Brazilian on the feet and frankly embarrassed him finishing him off in the second round.