UFC 259 featured three title fights that would set the tone for their respective divisions in 2021. While one bantamweight title changed hands in an odd fashion, the women’s featherweight Queen made for a short night, and Israel Adesanya’s attempt at light-heavyweight would not go as planned.
There was a lot to take away from UFC 259, here are some things that stood out.
No Last Minute Changes
A welcome change was to have no COVID 19 related cancelations for UFC 259. It seemed to become part of the “new normal” and a card the size of UFC 259 almost seemed like it was begging to lose a match or two. Luckily, that was not the case and was a more than welcome break in a trend of bad news for booking matches for the UFC and in MMA as a whole.
Late and odd stoppages seemed to occur during the preliminary bouts. Herb Dean’s officiating during Kai Kara France and Rogerio Bontorin’s fight ended with a confusing stoppage that left fans and commentary team wondering if it was sound or not. Also, referee Mark Smith during Uroš Medić and Aalon Cruz’s fight that had Medic drop Cruz and take punishment when it seemed clear Cruz was done, took a while to step in.
A Long Time Coming, But Not Like This
Aljamain Sterling has been fighting for a long time. Given his youth, calling him a veteran of MMA might be confusing but to look back on his career would show a truly great story on a martial artist growing with a sport that evolved along with him. However, while his time came for a shot at being champion, he won but not in the fashion he would have liked. The scoring before the illegal knee that cost Petr Yan the title could have had it go either way. But since the knee was obviously illegal, Yan lost by disqualification. A rematch could be in the future but for now, Sterling has a belt he would have rather won through clean competition.
Is There No One Else
Amanda Nunes made former Invicta FC featherweight champ Megan Anderson look like she was not someone that won a title outside of the UFC and then climb the ranks to earn that shot. The truth is Anderson did and is absolutely deserving of the shot but Nunes seems to be so good, there really is no one else out there right now that can beat her. She could very well retire as champion.
Dominick Cruz made his return to action against Casey Kenney. He won a pretty decisive match doing what he does best. At 35-years old Cruz is still a contender at bantamweight and could likely re-insert himself into some higher competition but his callout was a little unexpected. Hans Molenkamp of Triumph United, a combat sports brand company was the name he called out. Cruz said it would be a nice charity bout but fights like that do not really happen in the UFC unless it’s between two seasoned UFC fighters (think Poirier/McGregor and the charitable origins of their fight). Maybe it could be added to the next Triller card.
And Still For Blachowicz
Jan Blachowicz successfully defended his light-heavyweight title and while it certainly made a statement for him as the current light heavyweight champion, it did not say a lot for Adesanya’s endeavors in that division. Champ-champs may make for good marketing in the UFC, but for now, Blachowicz will have to look forward to facing other true contenders in his division. Or maybe he and Jones can do something at heavyweight if Jones does well there.
If Adesanya won at light-heavyweight at UFC 259, it could have been the seeds that started to make him and Jon Jones eventually facing off a reality. But, after what happened in the Apex against the current champion the hype for that fight might be fizzled. Jones’ domination of the division is hard to replicate and while Adesanya is doing it at middleweight, it did not seem like 205 pounds was a weight he could be strong at. Still, Adesanya told Joe Rogan in his post-fight interview he would like to return to 205 because he wants to “dare to be great.” Jones seems to support the sentiment, even if he might be trolling.
There’s obviously more to take away from this event than what is listed here. One title changed hands at bantamweight but the same fight needs to happen again since champions are not made in that fashion. UFC 259 was an ambitious card that was fun to watch, but did it deliver to fans?
What did you take away from the event?