UFC 259 provides us with a trio of title fights fought between no less than four UFC titleholders. This blockbuster card is headlined between middleweight kingpin Israel Adesanya current 205 pound titleholder Jan Blachowicz in about that could see “The Last Stylebender”become only the fourth person to simultaneously hold titles in two weight classes. Here you will find the plays you need to hit your double ups and find the green in your GPPs. I’ve broken each pick into 3 categories to make it easy for you. Here we go:
LEAD CINCH LOCKS
Amanda Nunes – Although some MMA pundits will respond with “Rhonda Rousey” when asked who is the UFC’s female GOAT, the consensus pick would be Brazil’s “Lioness”. She is by far the most powerful female striker on Earth (thanks for coming Cyborg) and apart from two razor thin decision wins versus Valentina Shevchenko, dominated her competition in her reign as double champion. Megan Anderson is in way over her head here. Period.
Sean Brady – Brady sports an undefeated 11-0 record, including a run of three straight victories inside the octagon, all of which have been submission finishes. He faces Jake Matthews, who once was Australia’s best hope for a UFC champion. This is a well matched fight, both in terms of physicality and skill. However, watching Brady fight reveals how much deeper his toolbox is. He has the superior weapons, and that should be more than enough to seal a victory here.
Uros Medic – The 27 year old Alaskan with killer finishing instincts named Uros Medic faces 31 year old Aalon Cruz in an undercard featherweight fight. Medic is the owner of a six fight winning streak in which he’s finished all six of his opponents. The knock on medic is that he made his bones on the relatively weak Alaskan regional scene, so what will he do versus better competition? Both Medic and Cruz earned contracts on the Contenders Series, so they each still have much to prove, and while I think someone on the UFC’s roster will be able to solve the riddle that is Uros Medic, it will not be Aalon Cruz.
SOLID BUT UNSPECTACULAR WINS
Song Yadong– Yadong is widely considered one of the best MMA prospects to have ever come out of China. He uses great in and out movement paired with effortless combinations to keep his opponents off balance until he lands the knockout blow. He faces another prospect in Kyler Phillips, although Phillips isn’t nearly as polished as Yadong. Phillips does his best work on the mat, but he should be catching some Z’s on it within a round or two.
Petr Yan – This will undoubtedly be the toughest test of Petr Yan’s relatively brief UFC career, and his inaugural title defense comes in the form of uber talented number one contender Aljamain Sterling. This fight will boil down to the age-old MMA question: can Sterling get the fight to the mat before Yan lands the KO. While AlJo is no slouch on the feet and will be able to use his superior footwork to stay out of range, he will eventually have to close the distance, and that will give Yan all the opening he needs to find his chin.
UNDERDOGS AND CONTRARIAN UPSIDE
Thiago Santos – You would think that the man who came within a hair’s breadth of dethroning the light heavyweight GOAT and who is now the consensus number two ranked 205’er in the world would warrant more respect from Vegas in this fight. However, such is not the case, as Santos is playing the underdog to Austria’s Aleksander Rakic. In Santos’ last fight against Glover Texieria, he was taken down and controlled on the mat until Glover found the stoppage. Presumably, since Rakic recently did the same thing to Anthony Smith, that will be his game plan with Santos. However, the difference in the two situations is that when Rakic closes the distance against Santos, he’s risking getting his brain scrambled. More than that, if he makes it past the strikes, the physical difference between Santos and Anthony Smith is obvious. Look for Rakic to wear down pushing to get this fight to the floor until eventually Santos sleeps him.
Joseph Benevidez – How can you not like Joey Benevidez? The guy is the epitome of a Team Alpha Male fighter: a cardio machine master of sprawl and brawl and front headlock submissions. It’s unfortunate his career will be best know for not being able to get over the hump in flyweight title bouts. Still, he’s defending his number two FW ranking against number three, Askar Askarov. Askarov’s game is simple: force the fight to the mat and wear down his opponent by scrambling like crazy. Unfortunately, that’s where Joey B. shines, and I see him walking away with a W here.