Jan Blachowicz vs. Israel Adesanya UFC 259 Odds, Pick & Prediction: Anticipate Early Finish in Main Event (Saturday, March 6)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Jan Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya.
- Israel Adesanya looks to become the fifth UFC fighter ever to become a two-division champion.
- In the middleweight champion's way is light heavyweight titleholder Jan Blachowicz, who has powered his way to an unexpected spot atop the division.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down where he sees betting value in the UFC 259 main event.
Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Odds
Israel Adesanya will attempt to become the fifth “Champ-Champ” in UFC history on Saturday and the first man to simultaneously hold the middleweight and light heavyweight belts against Jan Blachowicz, an unlikely champion who has been the underdog in nine of his last 10 fights.
The juxtaposition between Adesanya’s speed and precision and Blachowicz’s power should be stark in this matchup. But while this is “The Last Stylebender’s” first foray into the UFC’s light heavyweight division, he isn’t unfamiliar against larger foes, compiling a 75-5 record as a professional kickboxer, including multiple wins against cruiserweight and heavyweight competition.
Below I preview the matchup and odds for the main event of the evening. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate here.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||11:51||15:07|
|Weight (pounds)||205 lbs.||200.5 lbs.|
|Date of birth||2/24/83||7/22/89|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||3.49||4.10|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.74||2.33|
|Take Down Avg||1.10||0.00|
On fight night, Blachowicz generally weighs about 235 pounds, rehydrating roughly 15% of his body weight after Friday’s weigh-ins conclude.
Adesanya, who doesn’t always hit the middleweight limit, came in at 200.5 pounds on Friday — 4.5 pounds below the championship limit — and it’s safe to assume he didn’t cut anything.
As a result, there should be a massive weight and strength differential between the two men in the Octagon, which is a clear edge for Blachowicz in any clinch or grappling exchanges. I don’t care how good of a fighter you are, when someone 35-pounds heavier than you gains top position, it will be tough to escape from underneath them.
Additionally, this fight will occur in the 25-foot cage at UFC APEX — Adesanya’s first time in the smaller octagon. He has less room to maneuver outside and use his length (plus-2 inches of reach) and speed to pick away at his opponent.
The speed differential in the middle of the cage should be massive, however, and relatively similar to what we saw in last week’s main event between Ciryl Gane and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Adesanya, who is perhaps the most technically sound striker in the UFC, should be able to touch Blachowicz up wherever he wants. The key is to avoid the big shots coming back the other way and to avoid getting taken down when he lets his front and roundhouse kicks fly.
Adesanya is far from a perfect fighter. In fact, he’s come close to losing multiple times on his championship run. He fought to a split decision against a strong grappler in Marvin Vettori on his way up, was clipped and hurt by Kelvin Gastelum, who is more of a true welterweight in size, and was tied 2-2 on rounds before pulling away in the late moments of their interim title fight, and he engaged in a staring contest with Yoel Romero in his first undisputed title defense, a fight in which the majority of fans scored the bout for the Cuban challenger.
Adesanya is an incredible counter-puncher whose movement patterns and unorthodox striking are nearly impossible to prepare for. And I don’t expect Blachowicz to give up his belt in a low-volume, range kickboxing affair. That’s not a game he wants to play for 25 minutes and is very unlikely to win against a much faster and more highly technical fighter.
Blachowicz has never landed more than 100 significant strikes in a UFC fight and figures to lose on volume if this bout goes all 25 minutes.
Blachowicz will inevitably come forward, apply pressure, and hope to either catch Adesanya with some big shots, slow him down with kicks to the body, or grind him out in close quarters using that strength advantage.
If he can slow down Adesanya with those body shots and the pace of the fight entirely with the threat of his power, Blachowicz could find a way to retain his belt and cash more underdog tickets for his loyal backers.
But Adesanya is the favorite here for a reason. If he can deny the takedowns (career 86% defense), that almost eliminates the BJJ game and forces him to knock out a man who has only been stopped once in nearly 100 professional fights.
After opening at odds of +210 (implied 32.2%), the betting market has sided with Blachowicz thus far, pushing him closer to +185 (implied 35%) at most books, as of publishing.
Adesanya joked earlier this week that he would weigh in closer to 195 pounds, which may have scared some potential backers off betting “The Last Stylebender” until seeing Friday’s weigh-ins.
Now that he cleared 200 pounds on the scale, I expect the steam to move Adesany’s line eventually. The betting market has aggressively steamed his side for each of his past three fights and moved against Blachowicz in five of his past six bouts.
I projected Adesanya to win this bout 72% of the time (implied odds of -257). Still, I wouldn’t be interested in betting Adesanya unless that number drops to -220, at just more than a 3% edge relative to my projection. At this point, it seems unlikely.
For now, I would prefer to bet the fight to end inside the distance, which I projected closer to 70%, at implied odds of -231. You could bet that prop up to -200, at a similar three-percent edge.
I think Blachowicz will be forced to rush forward multiple times, where he either catches Izzy big with that Polish power or gets intercepted by one of the best counter-strikers on the planet, in a similar fashion to his 2019 loss to Thiago Santos:
UFC fight night 145: Thiago Santos earns himself a title shot with an emphatic TKO win over Jan Blachowicz. pic.twitter.com/UVr5ku3Zx0
— Neil Butcher (@MMAassault1) April 28, 2020
Blachowicz is incredibly durable, but it’s not impossible to put him away, though I do think it’s more likely to happen in the championship rounds than in the early stages of the fight.
The Pick: Fight Ends Inside the Distance (-189 at PointsBet)