Rejoice, UFC fans: 2021’s most stacked card is finally here. Saturday night’s highly-anticipated UFC 259 has three title fights atop the bill, and two of the three—my apologies, Megan Anderson—are very intriguing matchups.
Unfortunately, Anderson faces the Goliath task of beating current double-champ Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes in the women’s featherweight championship. Nunes is riding an eleven fight win-streak and is unanimously considered to be one of the most dominant UFC fighters of all time, so an Anderson win would be among the greatest upsets in the history of the sport. In the men’s bantamweight division, Peter Yan—the ice-cold Russian with rapid-fire boxing, fittingly nicknamed “No Mercy”—will defend his title against top contender and submission specialist Aljamain “Funkmaster” Sterling in a classic striker vs. wrestler matchup. The crown jewel of the card, however, is the main event between middleweight champion Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya and light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. The unbeaten Adesanya is the biggest name in fighting right now—probably the most fun to watch, too, with his unlimited arsenal of strikes—and he’s looking to maintain his status by becoming the latest two-division champion after his move to light heavyweight. Unsurprisingly, he’s a comfortable betting favorite, but Blachowicz has experienced an incredible comeback in the UFC and is very familiar with the underdog role. The Polish counter-puncher is decidedly bigger and stronger than Adesanya, which makes for an interesting clash of speed and power.
Beyond the belts, the main card features a light heavyweight bout between Thiago Santos and Aleksandar Rakic that might serve as a stepping-stone to a title shot, as well as a lightweight matchup between Drew Dober and Khabib Nurmagomedov’s up-and-coming protege, Islam Makhachev.
Unless all of the fighters on the card are replaced by clones of Kamaru Usman, it’s bound to be an entertaining night. Here are our predictions for the main card of UFC 259:
Light Heavyweight: Thiago Santos (2) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (4)
Kap: Santos by decision
JvR: Rakic by decision
Lightweight: Islam Makhachev (14) vs. Drew Dober (NR)
Kap: Makhachev by decision
JvR: Makhachev by 2nd round submission
Bantamweight: Peter Yan (C) vs. Aljamain Sterling (1)
Kap: Yan by 4th round TKO
JvR: Yan by 2nd round TKO
Women’s Featherweight: Amanda Nunes (C) vs. Megan Anderson (2)
Kap: Nunes by 2nd round TKO
JvR: Nunes by 3rd round TKO
Main Event - Light Heavyweight: Israel Adesanya (MW-C) vs. Jan Blachowicz (LHW-C)
Kap: Adesanya by 3rd round TKO
JvR: Blachowicz by 4th round TKO