This fight card could arguably go down as the greatest card in UFC history. The card is stacked from top to bottom. This Saturday night we have three championship fights! The first title fight is the dangerous Russian UFC Bantamweight Champion, Petr Yan defending his title for the first time against the always crafty Aljamain Sterling. The second title fight of the night is the women’s MMA “G.O.A.T”, Amanda Nunes defending her UFC Featherweight Title against the Australian, Megan Anderson. Lastly, the final title fight of the evening consists of the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz defending his UFC gold against the current middleweight king, Israel Adesanya. Typically, we breakdown the main and co-main events of UFC cards, however, three title fights is just too amazing to pass up. Now sit back like it’s fight night and join me as we journey through the path to victory for each title fight!
Bantamweight Title – Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling
Petr “No Mercy” Yan
15-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC | 7 (T)KOs, 1 Submission | 5’7” (169cm) | 67” Reach
The current Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan is looking to make his first title defense. He’s currently riding a 10-fight win streak in his MMA career and currently a 7-fight streak in the UFC. During his win streak, he has beaten the likes of Jimmie Rivera, Urijah Faber, and Jose Aldo. Yan has even finished 2 of the 3 fighters mentioned. The Russian is a very accomplished fighter all around. He has earned his master of sports in Boxing, MMA, and is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt. Furthermore, Yan is looking to continue his reign as champion but is going to have a tough opponent in front of him come Saturday night.
Path to Victory
“No Mercy” a great nickname given to Petr Yan. His strikes, relentless forward pressure, and power make the nickname very suitable for the Russian. In his fight with Urijah Faber, Yan showed why he is nicknamed “No Mercy” as he continued to march forward with head movement and continued to land counter strikes. Eventually getting the finish with a front kick Faber didn’t see coming.
Petr Yan knocks out Urijah Faber with a vicious head kick at UFC 245.
In order to see success come fight night, the champ needs to fight his opponent like he fought Faber. Aljamain Sterling and Urijah Faber have similar fighting styles because they want to take the fight to the ground and punish you. They do this by either submitting you or by delivering vicious strikes on the ground.
Yan must control the center of the octagon or push the pace so Sterling is on his heels. Doing so will cause his opponent to shoot sloppy take-downs. Terrible takedown attempts usually are the cause of frustration or fatigue and if Yan can manage to do one or the other it will open up his striking. Once his striking opens up that’s when you start to see knockdowns which will eventually lead to the (T)KO finish or a decisive 5 round decision.
Aljamain “Funk Master” Sterling
19-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC | 2 (T)KOs, 8 Submissions | 5’7” (169cm) | 71” Reach
The product of Ray Longo and Matt Serra, Sterling is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Not only is he a great BJJ practitioner but before making the transition he was a two-time NCAA Division III wrestler. His most notable wins are against Jimmie Rivera, Pedro Munhoz, and Cory Sandhagen. Currently riding a 5-fight win streak, “Funk Master” is looking to have his first taste of UFC gold by dethroning the current champion, Petr Yan.
Path to Victory
”Funk Master” must look to continue doing what he does best. In his fight with Cory Sandhagen, he rushed forward with kicks forcing Sandhagen on his heels. Sterling then clinched, took his back, and finished the fight via a rear-naked choke within 40 seconds of the first round.
Aljamain Sterling submits Cory Sandhagen with a rear-naked-choke at UFC 250 to earn a title shot.
Petr Yan hasn’t been threatened by forward marching pressure. Most of the time he is the one pushing the pace. As long as Sterling can utilize side-to-side movement and press forward, he can take this fight to the ground and dominate it the way he likes to do. Sterling can not move laterally!
Lastly, once on the ground “Funk Master” has to be patient and wait for his openings. He will have to stabilize the position and strike to open up a submission. There can’t be an ounce of space while on the ground as well. Sterling needs to limit space thus declining Yan’s chances of getting up or transitioning.
Women’s Featherweight Title – Amanda Nunes vs Megan Anderson
Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes
20-4 MMA, 13-1 UFC | 13 (T)KOs, 3 submissions | 5’8” (173cm) | 69” Reach
Amanda Nunes is considered by most the greatest women’s MMA fighter of all-time. She currently holds the women’s UFC Bantamweight and women’s UFC Featherweight Championships! Not only is she the champion in both divisions, but has defended both her titles in both weight classes. This makes her the first double champion to do so! Nunes is on an 11-fight win streak looking to move to 12 straight wins and retaining the title in the process.
Path to Victory
Amanda Nunes is one of the most complete fighters in MMA history. She’s progressed through the years and has shown she has beautiful striking, phenomenal wrestling/BJJ, and impressive cardio. A well-balanced skill set is what makes a champion! This well-balanced skillset is what helps her win her fights and what will lead her down a path to victory.
“The Lioness” just needs to do what she loves to do and that is bring the fight to her opponent. She closes the distance so well and delivers brutal blows in the process. In her fight with Cris Cyborg, Nunes did just that. She was able to land the shots as she was closing the distance!
Amanda Nunes knocks out former UFC Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg to capture the 145lb belt at UFC 232.
If she can close the distance and neutralize the long-range of Megan Anderson on fight night, she will emerge victorious. Another key to her success will be to bring the fight to the ground. Though her striking is great, Nunes can’t afford to be in a firefight with Megan Anderson. If they start trading blows, Nunes has to take the fight to the ground to avoid taking damage and control the fight. If she wishes to stand back up to strike then she can but she has to negate Megan’s power punching by avoiding the brawl.
10-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC | 6 (T)KOs, 3 submissions | 6’0” (183cm) | 72” Reach
Megan Anderson is the true definition of a women’s featherweight fighter. She holds the records for most fights, stoppage victories and is tied for the most knockouts in the UFC’s women’s featherweight division. The Australian is also a former Invicta Featherweight Champion and is looking to add the UFC title to her résumé.
Path to Victory
Being the tallest female fighter in the UFC, Anderson needs to use her range! A series of front kicks, jabs, and knees. Also, she can’t move backward. She needs to move left to right and make sure she keeps Nunes within her own reach.
In order to keep the champion at a comfortable distance, Anderson needs to circle around the octagon and flick her jab out. The jab helps to prevent forward movement from the opposition. When the title challenger starts to settle on her own ground, she needs to throw out a front kick with her long legs and keep Nunes at distance.
After the front kick, that’s when Anderson can look to throw combinations. Not a flurry of punches but a solid two to four-punch combination then continue to circle out throwing jabs. If she manages to do all of this, it’ll start to frustrate Nunes. That’s when the champion could look to come in putting her at risk. When Nunes enters, Anderson can look to throw a straight punch, elbows, and/or a knee. This is the exact way she finished Norma Dumont. Frustrating her opponent then delivering a gorgeous straight hand down the middle for a knockout finish!
Megan Anderson knocks out Norma Dumont at UFC Fight Night 169.
The Australian just needs to stay patient moving her feet and keep the champion at her own range. Utilizing her long jabs and front kicks in order to win a decision or causing frustration for Nunes will help Anderson find the finishing shot to claim her first-ever UFC title.
Light Heavyweight Title – Jan Błachowicz vs Israel Adesanya
27-8 MMA, 10-5 UFC | 8 (T)KOs, 9 Submissions | 6’2” (188cm) | 78” Reach
The second-ever Polish champion and the first-ever male Polish champion, Jan Błachowicz is looking to defend his title for the first time. He originally fought at middleweight but eventually moved up in weight claiming the title at 205lbs. The Polish champion is defending the title against the Middleweight Champion, but this isn’t the first time he fought an opponent moving up in weight. Błachowicz has fought both Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Both men were making their 205lb debuts but were cut short of their victories by the current champion. Błachowicz will look to do the same against Israel Adesanya come Saturday night
Path to Victory
Being the bigger opponent, Błachowicz must look to close the distance with Adesanya. Much like the second boxing match between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. Tyson Fury was able to force Wilder to carry his weight when he closed the distance causing Wilder to fatigue. In MMA they don’t break the fighters up in the clinch as long as there is action. The Polish champion can utilize the clinch against the fence to force his opponent to carry his weight. He will need to push his opponent’s head down, making his opponent scramble and pummeling to under hooks. This will make the challenger feel as if he’s in an unfamiliar position. He must do this during the first and seconds rounds!
After the second round, he will be able to march forward with his power strikes not having to worry about the kickboxing and counters of Adesanya. If he gets too close, he can work the clinch and use it to his own advantage. When Błachowicz fought Luke Rockhold, he did just that. When working the clinch and scrambling, he caught Rockhold with a flush hook to the chin which put him down to the canvas.
Jan Błachowicz knocks out former Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold at UFC 239.
Błachowicz needs to make this a fight and bring pressure to Adesanya. When Israel Adesanya fought Kelvin Gastelum it was a very close fight. A split decision win helped the Middleweight Champion claim the interim title. It was a hard-fought victory but with a bigger opponent, there is more room for error. If Błachowicz can fight as Gastelum did, he will catch Adesanya with a vicious knockout or he will see a decision win.
Israel “Stylebender” Adesanya
20-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC | 15 (T)KOs | 6’4” (193cm) | 80” Reach
The current UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya looks to become the 5th fighter to achieve “Champ Champ” status. Being a champion in the UFC is hard enough, but a two-division champion is an achievement that only 4 UFC fighters have ever managed to accomplish. Before his MMA career, “Stylebender” was an accomplished kickboxer having a 75-5 record. He’s fought in his weight class but also moved up in weight during his kickboxing career going a weight class above. He has even gone up two weight classes to compete at heavyweight! He’s no stranger to bigger opponents and looks to improve his undefeated record in MMA by defeating another larger competitor.
Path to Victory
Arguably the best kickboxer in UFC history, Israel Adesanya has shown phenomenal standup skills. Not only has his kickboxing proven to help win him fights but he has tremendous takedowns defense. His path to victory is basically doing what he does best. He will need to keep the fight standing, employ his kickboxing range and show up with his intelligent fight IQ.
In his most recent title defense against Paulo Costa, Adesanya demonstrated a striking clinic. Costa is probably the closest opponent “Stylebender” has fought that resembles Jan Błachowicz. In that fight he picked apart Paulo Costa with his patience, legs kick, and counter striking.
Israel Adesanya knocks out the previously undefeated Paulo Costa at UFC 253.
Adesanya will seek to do the same with Jan Błachowicz. He will have to sit on the outside, chop his legs and capitalize on his mistakes. If his opponent decides to take him down, we have seen the Middleweight Champion’s takedown defense. We saw this when he fought Derek Brunson who is a decorated wrestler in his own right.
If this fight stays on the feet and Adesanya can stay on the outside, he is guaranteed a decisive win or even a finish. All the tools are in his arsenal, he just has to stay calm, cool, and collected. He will need to wait for Błachowicz to make a mistake and capitalize. Lastly, he needs to use the leg kicks to immobilize the Polish champion from coming in.
UFC 259: Błachowicz vs Adesanya will air Saturday, March 6th, on ESPN and ESPN+ PPV beginning at 10 pm ET. Watch the fights and see who the winners are. Most importantly tune in to see if they can execute on their “Path To Victory”.