UFC 259 is going down on Saturday, March 6th and it would be an understatement to say this card is loaded. Top to bottom, we have a ton of exciting matchups to look forward to including three title fights. We’ll take a look at the main card, breaking down each fight and of course sprinkle in some gambling to top it all off. If you haven’t already, make sure you pick up some Modelos to get into that fighting spirit and cancel those plans with the girlfriend you forgot you made. Seriously, do you want to miss this?
Main card breakdowns:
- Israel Adesanya (20-0, -250) vs. Jan Blachowicz (27-8, -195)
For the main event we have Adesanya, the Middleweight Champion, coming up to Light Heavyweight to try and solidify himself as a double champion. Adesanya is coming off an impressive TKO win over Paulo Costa in September. Costa was previously undefeated and recognized as one of the hardest hitting 185ers in the UFC. Against Adesanya his power never got the chance to show itself as Izzy’s movement and striking ended the bout in the second round. Even if Costa’s latest of many excuses was being hungover on fight day, it’s still quite the win for the Last Stylebender.
On the other side we get Jan Blachowicz checking in for his first title defense after knocking out Dominick Reyes to claim the strap. Blachowicz is best known for his “Polish Power” and without a doubt will be looking for the one punch knockout on Saturday night.
Izzy is coming into this fight as the smaller man and even claimed that he will be roughly 10 pounds under the 205 pound weight limit. There are those who will say that Jan will shoot for takedowns, but that won’t happen. Jan loves to push forward and capitalize on his opponents mistakes in the form of a knockout. The issue here is that he’s fighting a guy who doesn’t make mistakes. Izzy is possibly one of the most fluid strikers we have ever seen and this will frustrate Jan when he looks for the knockout. If his defense isn’t enough, the well-calculated shots that Izzy will be throwing should be enough to land him a late TKO.
Pick: Adesanya via 4th round TKO
Best Bet: Adesanya ML
Prop Bet: Adesanya by TKO at +125 / over 2.5 at -150
- Amanda Nunes (20-4, -1100) vs. Megan Anderson (11-4 +700)
The co-main event features the arguable GOAT in women’s MMA in Amanda Nunes, who takes on the hard-hitting Megan Anderson. On paper this might appear to be a closer matchup than the odds suggest, but let’s not kid ourselves. Nunes will have Anderson beat in all aspects and should make this fight easy. We have seen Anderson vulnerable to takedowns before, and I think that’s exactly how this fight will go. There might be a few exchanges on the feet early on, but it should take Nunes no more than a couple takedowns to lock up a submission.
Pick: Nunes via 2nd round Sub
Best Bet: I’m not gonna sit here and tell you it’s Nunes at -1100. At that point, I don’t even see a reason to parlay that. If you are inclined to throw straight on it, I’ll refer you to Bettiquite. A slightly less gross line is Nunes inside the distance at -350.
Prop Bet: Nunes via submission at +210. (Notably, Anderson’s only 2 losses inside the distance are by submission)
- Petr Yan (15-1, -110) vs. Aljamain Sterling (19-3 -105)
Our first title fight of the night features Petr Yan making his first title defense against Aljamain Sterling. It’s rare we see any bout in the UFC lined at a near pick ’em’, but this is one that I see as justified. Yan is coming off a July win over Jose Aldo where he claimed the vacant bantamweight title. The fight was fairly back and forth until Yan started to almost literally break Aldo which led to a fifth round stoppage. This was probably the best Yan has looked and if you’re looking to understand his fighting style, that’s a great example of his game. Keep the fight standing and throw hard out of his dynamic Muay Thai stance. On the other hand, Sterling is coming off perhaps the most impressive win of his career in June when he submitted Cory Sandhagen early into the first round. Sterling is known for his awkward yet effective standup game but his strongest asset is his ability to get the fight to the ground and lock up a submission. Sterling has said leading up to fight week that he will try to take Yan down as many times as needed. The questions are if Sterling can lock up the takedown and if his cardio will hold up. I think both of those will hold true, but the x factor here might come from two key aspects of each man in this bout. The first being that while we have seen Yan hit hard and accurately, he often lacks volume which is key to winning rounds on the scorecards. The second that Yan has never faced a style similar to Aljo. While I do think he will be able to take Yan down, I think on the feet his elusive and unorthodox movement might frustrate Yan. It should be noted that while Sterling won his last fight quickly, he is not known for winning in the first round. I’m not saying he won’t shoot for a takedown and try to end things early, but Yan should meet him with resistance early on. I see this being a back and forth battle with the underdog Aljo mixing in takedowns and a higher striking volume to secure a decision win.
Pick: Sterling via decision
Best Bet: Sterling ML
Best Prop: Sterling via decision at +333 or over 2.5 rounds at -150
- Islam Makhachev (18-1, -350) vs. Drew Dober (23-9, +280)
Our second bout of the main card takes place in the Lightweight division with Islam Makhachev taking on Drew Dober. Makhachev is coming off a long layoff with his last fight being a September 2019 decision win over Davi Ramos. Dober has been more active and last fought Alexander Hernandez in May where he won via second round TKO. Makhachev is a product of the famed Nurmagomedov camp and certainly fights like it. His relentless pressure and world class grappling have earned him a near flawless record to date. Across the Octagon from him is Drew Dober who fights with a similar pressure and prefers to look for the knockout. It should be noted that the last time Dober was an underdog (+275 vs. Nasrat Haqparast) he notched a first round knockout win. However, I don’t see that happening here. Looking back at Dober’s last fight he was notably taken down 3 times before scrambling and putting together a beautiful combination to secure the TKO. Dober’s path to victory is clearly a knockout, but in order to do that he needs to open up his hands and walk Islam down. However, in doing so he would leave himself vulnerable for a takedown, which is exactly what Islam will be looking for. Regardless, I see Makhachev hanging around on the feet and doing some damage before taking this fight to the ground. While Dober is solid at scrambling, we’re talking about a Dagastani with top control here. Makachev should end the fight in the second round with a submission, although I’ll personally be rooting for Dober to spring the upset.
Pick: Makhachev via 2nd round sub
Best bet: Let’s not complicate it. Makhachev ML. Don’t mind this as a potential parlay piece either.
Best prop: I hate to give out a prop with this much juice, but I’ll go with over 1.5 rounds at -300 since there is a chance this one goes the distance.
- Thiago Santos (21-8, +135) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (13-2, -155)
Our main card opens up with this exciting matchup at Light Heavyweight. Thiago Santos is coming off a November 2020 3rd round submission loss to Glover Teixeira. On the other side is Aleksandar Rakic who last fought and won a decision against Anthony Smith in August of last year. This is a fight we really don’t need to dig too deep on as we have Santos on the back end of his career and Rakic looking to solidify himself as a top contender in the division. Santos is certainly a skilled striker and his Thai boxing style has gotten him many impressive knockouts over the course of his career. (His last win was actually a knockout against Jan Blachowicz). Rakic on the other hand is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division who packs impressive power and fantastic grappling abilities. While most would say this fight takes place on the feet, I think we will eventually see a younger and faster Rakic secure some takedowns and ride out the latter half of this fight in dominant position on his way to a decision victory.
Pick: Rakic via decision
Best Bet: Given the odds, Rakic ML.
Best Prop: Over 1.5 at -145
Other fights to watch:
Casey Kenney vs. Dominick Cruz (Lean: Cruz via decision)
Carlos Ulberg vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (Lean: Ulberg via TKO, round 1)
Jake Matthews vs. Sean Brady (Lean: Brady via TKO, round 1)
Hopefully this was a good primer for what should be a great night of fights. Best of luck to all who are betting and don’t forget to bet responsibly. (By responsibly, I mean don’t even think about hedging and make sure to save some of that bankroll for March Madness.)