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UFC 259 Prelim Card
Bantamweights open the card as Mario Bautista takes on Trevin Jones. Bautista is on a two-fight winning streak and should come out on top against the 30-year-old Jones.
Uros Medic meets Aalon Cruz in lightweight action. Medic is making his UFC debut and hopes to remain unbeaten with a win over Cruz who hasn’t competed since a TKO loss in February last year.
There is women's strawweight action as well as Livia Renata Souza collides with Amanda Lemos. Despite having less experience, Lemos, who is on a two-fight winning streak, is the betting favorite over Souza who is 3-1 in her UFC career.
Sean Brady meets Jake Matthews in a solid welterweight matchup. Although he is only 3-0 in his UFC career, the unbeaten Brady is expected to continue his streak against Matthews who is currently on a three-fight winning streak.
Light heavyweight prospects Kennedy Nzechukwu and Carlos Ulberg will face.off. Ulberg -- a teammate of Israel Adesanya -- enjoyed a knockout win in his Dana White Contender Series debut and oddsmakers have him beating the slightly more experienced Nigerian.
The one-time title challenger Tim Elliot will look to embark on a winning streak with a victory over Jordan Espinosa in their flyweight contest. Both fighters have won only in their last four outings, but Espinosa is the slight betting favorite.
More flyweights are in action as Rogerio Bontorin meets Kai Kara-France. Kara-France, who has lost two out of three, plans on getting back on track against the Brazilian.
The flyweight battles continue as former title challenger Joseph Benavidez faces off against Askar Askarov. Benavidez is coming off back-to-back losses to Deiveson Figueiredo and the unbeaten Askarov is only slightly favored over the veteran.
Song Yadong will look to continue his unbeaten run in his bantamweight duel with Kyler Phillips. Expect him to do just that as he is a slight favorite over Phillips who is 2-0 in the UFC thus far.
Former bantamweight king Dominick Cruz returns to action for the first time since May of last year as he takes on prospect Casey Kenney. Despite Cruz’s last win coming back in the summer of 2016, he is only a slight underdog against Kenney who should have an edge over the often injured former champion.
UFC 259 Main Card
Thiago Santos (21-8) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (13-2)
Thiago Santos will look to return to the win column against Aleksandar Rakic in this exciting matchup. Santos is in desperate need of a win as he is currently on a two-fight losing streak following defeats to Jon Jones and Glover Teixiera. Rakic -- who is 5-1 in the UFC and coming off a unanimous decision win over Anthony Smith -- is the favorite going into the fight with the hard-hitting Brazilian.
Islam Makhachev (18-1) vs. Drew Dober (23-9, 1NC)
Islam Makhachev is back in the Octagon for the first time since September 2019 when he faces the red-hot Drew Dober. IMakhachev will finally face his first ranked lightweight opponent which is something he has long called for during his six-fight winning streak.
Dober will present a tough task as he has won six wins in his last seven, including three consecutive knockout wins. However, it will be a tough hill to climb against the Dagestan native who is a big favorite.
Petr Yan (15-1) vs. Aljamain Sterling (19-3) – Title Bout
Petr Yan will look for a successful first bantamweight title defense when he faces rival Aljamain Sterling. Yan won the vacant title following an impressive fifth-round TKO win over former featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
In total, he is 7-0 in the UFC but he is yet to truly face a contender in their prime. Sterling might just be that as he is on a five-fight winning streak with many believing he is the one who can finally test Yan. Oddsmakers agree as the fight is virtually a pick ‘em. However, Yan is the slightest of favorites and should come out on top unless Sterling surprises him early.
Amanda Nunes (20-4) vs. Megan Anderson (11-4) – Title Bout
Amanda Nunes will defend her women’s featherweight title for the second time when she collides with long and lanky Megan Anderson. The two-weight champion has already established herself as the GOAT of women’s mixed martial arts and that was furthered when she dominated Felicia Spencer back in June.
Nunes is also on an 11-fight winning streak and barring the biggest of upsets, it’s hard to see her breaking a sweat against Anderson who is on a two-fight winning streak. Expect a knockout win for “The Lioness” who has a big speed and power advantage on the feet and more technique on the ground.
Jan Blachowicz (27-8) vs. Israel Adesanya (20-0) – Title Bout
The main event sees middleweight champion Israel Adesanya attempt to become the fifth simultaneous two-weight champion when he challenges Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title. Adesanya remains undefeated and is coming off an impressive second-round TKO win over bitter rival Paulo Costa back at UFC 253 in September.
Blachowicz, meanwhile, won the vacant light heavyweight strap that Jon Jones vacated after a suprising second-round TKO win over Dominick Reyes on that very same card.
In total, the Pole has won eight of his last nine contests as he has become a well-rounded fighter with solid wrestling, plus fight-ending knockout power.
Adesanya is the more skilled and dynamic fighter on the feet and easy to see how he could outpoint the much bigger Blachowicz. Oddsmakers are in agreement as “The Last Stylebender” remains a heavy betting favorite, but if you like to take a chance, I like Blachowicz in this one.
While Israel has not planned on adding any weight, I think the sze and power of Jan in the small Las Vegas cage will find an opportunity in the 25-minute window.
About Ryan O’Leary
Ryan O’Leary is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist and commentator. The Swedish-based writer is the founder and editor at MMAViking.com, which is the premier source for Nordic mixed martial arts news since 2008.