Adesanya v Blachowicz odds:
Israel Adesanya bids to become just the fifth fighter in UFC history to hold two titles simultaneously as he steps up to light heavyweight to face Jan Blachowicz on Saturday.
The middleweight champ has been unstoppable over the course of his mixed martial arts career, compiling a perfect 20-0 record, including nine wins in the UFC.
Since unifying the 185lb belt with a stoppage win over Robert Whittaker, ‘The Last Stylebender’ has defended his title twice, going the distance with Yoel Romero before dispatching Paulo Costa in his last fight.
He moves up to 205lb for the first time in MMA, but this is far from the first time Adesanya has faced a bigger opponent.
The New Zealander fought at a higher weight multiple times during his 80-fight kickboxing career, including a few fights at 220lb.
That, combined with his exemplary record so far, sees Adesanya heads to Las Vegas as clear favourite.
Light heavyweight champ Blachowicz is unlikely to be fazed by that, though.
The heavy-hitting Pole has defied the odds throughout his career, particularly during his UFC stint, which begun with four losses in his first six fights.
Since then, though, Blachowicz has won eight of his last nine, including his last four to claim the vacant 205lb title against Dominick Reyes in September.
He enters Saturday’s champ v champ contest as a underdog.
Adesanya v Blachowicz prediction:
The narrative of this fight is very much technique versus power.
Adesanya is among the most skilful strikers in the sport, with his ability to control distance and strike from all angles being unrivalled in the UFC.
His defensive ability is similarly impressive as his footwork and head movement combine to make him a difficult target to hit.
When he does get hit, he tends to roll with the shots well to negate the worst of the damage, and he will need all of those skills on point to avoid Blachowicz’s ‘Polish power.’
The light heavyweight champion has dealt some serious damage on the feet during the latter stages of his career, including four KOs in his last five bouts.
Don’t be fooled into thinking Blachowicz is a one-dimensioned fighter, though.
The veteran has a black belt in jiu-jitsu and is a solid all-round wrestler, and his size means he is likely to dominate any grappling exchanges that materialise on Saturday.
Similarly, however, Adesanya has the grappling skills and fight IQ to avoid those situations, with the vast majority of this fight likely to take place on the feet.
For that reason, it’s hard to look past Adesanya – even considering the size difference.
‘The Last Stylebender’ dispatched a bigger man in Costa with ease in his last fight, and while Blachowicz represents a further step up in weight, his striking is more than good enough to negate any threat.
The Pole isn’t likely to fold as easily as Costa, but Adesanya will find a home for his strikes more often than not, and should be able to pick his opponent apart over five rounds.
Adesanya to win by decision
Visit Betway’s UFC betting page.