UFC 259: Five keys to victory for Israel Adesanya.
UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya is moving up in weight to fight the light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz on Saturday night at UFC 259, to try and become the fifth fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously.
In Adesanya’s last fight, he defended the middleweight strap on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi in September at UFC 253 against Paulo Costa. Although this was a middleweight fight, Costa was likely just as big as what Blachowicz will be on Saturday night after the weight cut. Adesanya has experience going up against guys who are bigger than him, as he has fought at higher weight classes throughout his previous illustrious kickboxing career. It will be interesting to see how he does moving up in weight in the UFC.
Here are his five keys to victory.
1. Keep a distance
I think that Israel Adesanya knows that he should have a similar strategy in this fight as he did in his last two title defenses against Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa. If Jan Blachowicz gets inside and is able to push his weight on Adesanya and grab him, it could be a long night for him. Adesanya needs to keep a distance, stay away from Blachowicz’s power and counter just like he has done his entire UFC career thus far.
2. Don’t allow the fight to go to the ground
Adesanya has one of the highest takedown defense rates in UFC history, but we have yet to see what he can do on the ground. With a serious weight disadvantage, having the fight on the ground could cause trouble for Adesanya. Blachowicz is a dangerous striker, but the UFC has never seen a striker as diverse as Adesanya, which should play into his advantage if he is able to keep the fight on the feet.
3. Leg kicks
After watching the Jan Blachowicz vs Dominick Reyes fight at UFC 253, noticed that Reyes was throwing a lot of kicks to the head, and it didn’t seem like Blachowicz had trouble seeing them. Reyes did not attack the legs as much, and as we’ve seen recently in the UFC, calf kicks have been one of the most devastating techniques. We saw this in the Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje fight at UFC 249 and Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor 2 in January at UFC 257. In Adesanya’s last fight, he made it a priority to chop at Paulo Costa’s legs, as he landed 26/27 significant leg strikes according to UFC Stats and ultimately caused Costa’s leg to be compromised. If Adesanya is able to have anywhere near this output and success rate on leg strikes against Blachowicz, it would surely be a large factor in the case he wins this fight.
4. Avoid the left body kick
In Jan Blachowicz’s championship-winning fight at UFC 253, he threw the left body kick quickly out of his orthodox stance many times against Dominick Reyes. It was clear that this shot was bothering Reyes, as his right arm would lower each time after Blachowicz connected to protect against the next shot. Blachowicz’s success with this shot was evident as Reyes had an imprint of his foot on the right side of his rib area. If Adesanya is able to do what he does best, which is avoiding shots, and if he is able to avoid the left body kick, it should increase his chances of winning this fight.
5. Negate the “Polish Power”
If Adesanya allows Blachowicz to continuously throw and connect with power shots with his hands or with his kicks, it could be a quick fight. When Blachowicz lands, not many people can take his power; we saw what he did to former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, and what he did to Dominick Reyes who was coming off a 5-round fight with Jon Jones. Adesanya is elusive and since they will be fighting in a smaller cage, his movement will be very important in order to avoid what Blachowicz has trademarked as the “Legendary Polish Power.”