UFC 259 is upon us, with four champions competing in three title fights: Amanda Nunes defends her featherweight title against Megan Anderson, Petr Yan puts her bantamweight title on the line against Aljamain Sterling and the Middleweight Israel Adesanya challenges Jan Blachowicz for his lightweight title. .
Here’s a look at Sporting News odds and picks for the big fights of the night.
All odds courtesy of FanDuel.
Jan Blachowicz vs Israel Adesanya odds
- Jan Blachowicz: +184
- Israel Adesanya: -230
Although Adesanya is increasing in weight, punters fail to see that Blachowicz is holding up much on the Nigerian’s journey to become a two-division champion. And a closer look at Adesanya’s recent outings suggests exactly that.
Blachowicz, 38, had an impressive run with four straight wins over Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Corey Anderson and Dominick Reyes, three of those fights off the scoreboard. Apart from a knockout loss to Thiago Santos, the Polish fighter has won eight of his last nine fights. It’s certainly impressive, but he also suffered his fair share of losses during his tenure in the UFC. Although his current run suggests he took a turn at the end of his career, what he faces on Saturday night is totally different from what he has faced in his current winning streak.
In order to beat Israel Adesanya, his opponent must give him something to think about outside of a pure standing fight. And that requires threatening the withdrawal in order to prevent the kickboxer from sliding into a comfort zone and dissecting his opponents.
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Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa fought from a distance and were eventually separated while Yoel Romero kept Adesanya tired of his power but did nothing to avoid being highlighted.
Adesanya is different in that he’s a fluid attacker who is just as devastating with punches and kicks. He changes levels easily and is just as effective as a counterattacker as he is an aggressor. Kelvin Gastelum was the only fighter to have achieved success in a fight of the year candidate against Adesanya, thanks to the pullout threat which allowed Gastelum to keep the Auckland fighter in doubt.
If you don’t, you are doomed to lose.
Blachowicz has a great fight, but the problem is going to be finding a way to close the distance to either drag the fight to the mat or land one of those heavy bombs that could do some serious damage.
Blachowicz may be the naturally taller fighter, but he will be at a height disadvantage and reach Adesanya. This is a recipe for disaster when faced with an opponent who takes advantage of these advantages with a precise strike. There could be some risky moments, but this fight will likely play out the same as Costa’s fight with Adesanya using leg kicks and a yank to set up a third or fourth round knockout.
And that’s exactly where the money comes in as Adesanya is a -230 favorite.
Sports News Pick: Israel Adesanya by (T) KO
Amanda Nunes vs Megan Anderson odds
- Amanda Nunes: -1200
- Megan Anderson: +680
Look, there really isn’t much to waste time explaining why the greatest female fighter of all time will retain her 145-pound title. Megan Anderson is a solid fighter who packs a punch in the women’s featherweight division, but was subdued in the first round by Nunes-dominated Felicia Spencer and outscored by Holly Holm, who was stopped by the champion.
Nunes has superior technique at all levels. The only question is, how does she plan to finish it? Is she using her wrestling to win submission or is she the first fighter to knock Anderson out?
A side bet is the only way to make money on Nunes as the two-division champion is a big favorite at -1200. Since Anderson is sensitive to submissions, it makes sense to lean this way.
Choice of sports news: Amanda Nunes by submission
Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling odds
- Petr Yan: -110
- Aljamain Sterling: -110
This is the hardest fight to choose as the champion has yet to show any flaws in his armor during his 7-0 UFC run. However, Sterling has faced tougher competition and is a wizard with his grappling and wrestling.
The punters made this fight an even fight for this very reason. We don’t know exactly how good Yan is. Hitting a Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber on the hill doesn’t necessarily say he’s the best in the division as he managed to clinch the title without facing Cory Sandhagen, Marlon Moraes, Frankie Edgar, Cody Garbrandt and Pedro Munhoz. He’ll have his hands full with Sterling.
As for Sterling, this title fight is long overdue and was won with absolute rolling from Sandhagen on his last outing. He might not be a devastating striker, but his high-level combat and improved standup could make him an interesting fight.
Yan has one loss in his MMA career but has yet to face a Sterling level grappler. He’s a powerhouse, but can he fight his way through this opponent?
There is a sincere dislike for each other, and with the fight being five rounds, this one likely won’t go the distance. Either way – whether through Sterling’s submission or KO Yan – the judges are unlikely to be needed.
With such a close fight, since Yan and Sterling are both -110, betting that the fight doesn’t go the distance may deliver the best result.
Choice of sports news: Yan-Sterling does not go the distance