On Saturday, March 6th, the UFC returns to PPV with UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya, which features three world title fights live from Las Vegas, Nevada, beginning at 10PM ET.
The main event of the night is a superfight between middleweight champ Israel Adesanya and light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz.
The co-featured bout will see the GOAT Amanda Nunes take on Megan Anderson. The third and final world title fight is a bantamweight championship contest as Petr Yan defends his belt against Aljamain Sterling.
In addition to the three championship bouts, there are two other ranked contests on the main card that include Thiago Santos vs Aleksandar Rakic and Islam Makhachev vs Drew Dober.
Prior to the start of the PPV, UFC 259 will feature a massive 10 bout preliminary card that begins at 6PM ET on ESPN+.
Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine the current UFC 259 odds, identify any value, and head kick these predictions.
Four champions! Two No. 1 contenders!
Welcome to #UFC259 fight week 🏆
— UFC (@ufc) March 1, 2021
Thiago Santos vs Aleksandar Rakic
- Thiago Santos (+135)
- Aleksandar Rakic (-155)
- Over (-150)/Under (+130) 1.5 rounds
The opening bout of the PPV is a Top 5 light heavyweight battle between the 4th ranked Aleksandar Rakic and the 2nd ranked Thiago Santos.
The UFC veteran Thiago Santos has 20 octagon appearances on his resume with a record of 13-7 in those fights. Santos has dropped two straight contests which included a split decision loss to Jon Jones and a 3rd round submission defeat to Glover Teixiera last November.
It’s been two years since he has last won and that was a 3rd round TKO win over the current light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz. In fact, that’s the champ’s only loss in his last nine fights.
Santos’ goal is to win the title even if he has to fight into his 40s to do so:
“My goal is to become the UFC champion. I’m not in the UFC just to be in the UFC. I plan to fight past the age of 40. It all depends on how much my body can take. As long as I can have good performances, I’ll keep working at it.”
Santos recognizes the challenge that he faces with Rakic as the Brazilian acknowledges that his opponent is tough and has a great skillset. Thiago declares that this will be an awesome fight.
16 of his 21 pro wins have come via stoppage with 15 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 5-2 when going the distance.
Rakic lost the first fight of his pro career then won 12 straight fights before losing via controversial split decision to Volkan Oezdemir in December 2019.
Rakic joined the UFC in the fall of 2017 and won his first four trips inside the octagon. Following the loss to Oezdemir, Rakic returned to action in August 2020 and dominated Anthony Smith with a unanimous decision victory.
10 of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-1 when going the distance and has one stoppage loss coming via submission.
Rakic knows he will have a tough fight on his hands this weekend. He’s preparing for a war and hopes to get a title shot if he can get past Santos at UFC 259:
“I’m gonna be prepared for war, and I know Thiago is also gonna be prepared for war. I want this title shot, and I want this belt so bad. I made a promise for one friend of mine who I lost a couple of days ago, and I promised his family that I’m gonna win against Thiago and I’m gonna get the title shot, and this motivates me a lot.”
This fight comes down to Santos’ aggression and Rakic’s takedowns. If Santos comes in wild and crazy, he’s going to get dipped and smothered on the mat for three rounds. If he can stay patient and strike when opportunities present themselves, then Thiago has a decent shot at winning.
I think this weekend will prove that the UFC has a new star in the light heavyweight division as Rakic is going to win this contest via decision (+245). Rakic’s best shot at winning is to control the fight from the mat and to not engage in a 15 minute fire fight with Santos.
So, take the Over 1.5 rounds (-150) and for the fight to go the distance (+160). Rakic has gone the distance in four of his six UFC fights including two straight. Santos went to a decision and lost against Jon Jones two fights ago.
The best value for this contest is either Over 1.5 rounds (-150) or the fight going the distance at (+160).
Thiago Santos vs Aleksandar Rakic –Rakic (-155)
Over 1.5 rounds (-150)
Fight goes the distance (+160)
Rakic wins via decision (+245)
Islam Makhachev vs Drew Dober
- Islam Makhachev (-350)
- Drew Dober (+290)
- Over (-175)/Under (+155) 2.5 rounds
The last non-title main card fight is a Top 15 lightweight clash between #15 Drew Dober and #14 Islam Makhachev.
Dober enters as a large underdog in this lightweight contest. He’s been with the UFC since the fall of 2013 and started off his octagon career at 3-4. Nearly four years ago, things really took off for Dober as he’s put together a run of six victories in his last seven fights.
At 9-5 in the UFC, Dober has won three straight contests all via TKO/KO. His last bout was in May 2020 where he beat Alexander Hernandez via 2nd round TKO. Dober appears to have found his rhythm inside the octagon and his striking skills keep him in any fight.
13 of his 23 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 7-5 when going the distance and does have four stoppage defeats which includes three by submission.
As for his opponent on Saturday, Dober believes that he’s all hype:
“I think a lot of the hype comes from when you have one of the greatest of all time Khabib talk so highly of you, plus Russian fans follow their athletes whole-heartedly. So I think a lot of his hype comes from Khabib and the fanbase and all that stuff and not really so much his accomplishments in the cage. Honestly, that’s what I’m trying to test out, to kinda see if that hype is really all there and that kinda thing. I don’t really see the hype being warranted, but we’re here to find out March 6th.”
Makhachev started off his career 12-0 and earned a contract with the UFC nearly six years ago. He won his debut fight in May 2015 via 2nd round submission over Leo Kuntz, but lost in his next fight via 1st round TKO. It’s the only blemish on his resume.
Following the loss, Makhachev bounced back with six straight victories. However, his last fight was in September 2019 where he beat Davi Ramos via unanimous decision.
10 of his 18 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of submission. He’s 8-0 when going the distance.
There is a lot of hype for Makhachev as he’s similar to Khabib Nurmagomedov, who believes that Islam will be the lightweight champ one day. Makhachev’s trainer has also talked about how Islam is the only won to win a round against Khabib.
The hype is real, but it needs to be proven on Saturday. Fortunately, Makhachev has an opponent that he matches up well against.
Makhachev will be cautious when engaging in striking with Dober as he calculates his takedown attempts. Islam will keep the fight close and look for trips or other ways to tie up Dober who is not as good as Makhachev is on the mat.
I expect Makhachev to grind out a decision win as he smothers Dober for the better part of this three round contest. Take the Over 2.5 rounds (-175) and for the fight to go the distance (-155).
For Makhachev, four of his last six fights have gone the distance including two in a row. 12 of Dober’s 32 pro fights have gone to a decision.
The best value for this contest is Makhachev winning via decision at -120 odds.
Islam Makhachev vs Drew Dober –Rakic (-155)
Over 2.5 rounds (-175)
Fight goes the distance (-155)
Makhachev wins via decision (-120)
Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling
- Petr Yan (-110)
- Aljamain Sterling (-110)
- Over (-130)/Under (+100) 3.5 rounds
This bantamweight title fight is as close as you can get when it comes to betting odds as many online betting sites are unable to pick a clear cut winner.
Sterling has been with the UFC for seven years now and has racked up an 11-3 record inside the octagon. “Funk Master” has won five straight fights including victories against Stamann, Rivera, Munhoz and Sandhagen who he just beat last June via 1st round submission.
The victory against Sandhagen was a #1 contender’s fight and arguably the best victory of his entire career.
10 of his 19 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of submission. He’s 9-2 when going the distance and has just one stoppage loss on his resume.
The talk is finally over 🗣
We’re 5️⃣ days until ‘No Mercy’ vs ‘Funkmaster’
— UFC (@ufc) March 2, 2021
Sterling has been very critical of Petr Yan, going as far as calling him a paper champ:
“I know he’s a bad dude. But at the end of the day, he’s beaten up a lot of old men and he has to beat a young lion still. I think for him he wants to prove this more than anything and I think that’s his driving factor. To prove he really is the champion. For me, it’s to prove he’s been the paper champ this entire time and the real champ was the guy who fought Cory Sandhagen and finished the fight in under two minutes.”
Yan’s lone loss came via split decision five years ago in Russia to Magomed Magomedov who he beat in the rematch 13 months later. Since that loss, he’s won 10 fights in a row including seven straight inside the octagon.
Yet, his only legitimate divisional win was against Jimmie Rivera two years ago. His last two fights were against Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo who are both well past their primes. Yan knocked out both of them.
Eight of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 7-1 when going the distance.
Yan had the following to say about his title defense against Sterling:
“Everything he said doesn’t bother me at all, I’m having fun going back-and-forth with him on social media. But fight night I will be cold-blooded and calculated like always. My goal is always to finish the fight early and do the damage. I see me getting a very violent finish. It will play out very violently for him.”
Yan is a scary dude inside the octagon, but something about what Sterling said has me doubting the champ’s success on Saturday.
There’s no comparison between the resumes of these two fighters. Sterling has fought the tougher opponents in the UFC and has been very impressive. He’s beaten Top 10 and Top 5 fighters in four straight contests with two wins via submission.
This really is a tough fight to predict and I can see why oddsmakers pretty much have them at even lines.
With that said, I am taking the Over 3.5 rounds (-130) and for the fight to go the distance (+110). Combined, these men have gone the distance in 19 of their 38 pro fights.
Sterling has gone the distance in seven of his last 10 bouts, while Yan has gone the distance in seven of his last 11 fights.
I’m taking Yan in this contest as I believe his striking will be the difference. He should be able to rack up the rounds with his striking arsenal as long as he can defend the takedown.
The best value is with each fighter’s moneyline.
Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling –Yan (-110)
Over 3.5 rounds (-130)
Fight goes the distance (+110)
Yan wins via decision (+280)
Amanda Nunes vs Megan Anderson
- Amanda Nunes (-1050)
- Megan Anderson (+675)
- Over (-120)/Under (-105) 1.5 rounds
In the co-main event, Megan Anderson enters the featherweight title fight as the largest underdog for the entire UFC 259 event.
She earned this title shot with a 1st round KO over Norma Dumont 13 months ago and is just 3-2 in her last five fights. Her last four contests have all ended in the 1st round and she went 3-1 in those contests. Anderson is 3-2 in the UFC and looking for the biggest win of her career.
Nine of her 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. She’s 2-2 when going the distance.
As for the upcoming title fight, Anderson believes that Nunes is very predictable inside the octagon:
“She is very good at being the hammer, but she isn’t very good at being the nail. She doesn’t do anything flashy. But it also makes her a bit predictable because she doesn’t do anything flashy. Like, she’s very good in that aspect but she also doesn’t do very good when the roles are reversed and she’s not being the aggressor.”
Nunes is the GOAT for women’s MMA as the champ-champ has won 11 straight fights. She last competed nine months ago and beat Felicia Spencer via unanimous decision.
In the last three years, she’s beat Pennington, Cyborg, Holm, de Randamie and Spencer. 16 of her 20 pro wins have come via stoppage with 13 by way of TKO/KO. She’s 4-1 when going the distance.
Despite being a massive favorite, Nunes is not overlooking Anderson. She gives credit to her opponent for being tough and believes this will be an amazing fight:
“I feel this fight is going to be awesome, it’s going to be a battle. Megan is a pretty tough opponent, I know she will bring it and I’m going to be ready. She’s long, she knows how to use her reach but over here we have a lot of options on who I train with to get ready for her. I know my timing is good, my wrestling is pretty sharp, my ground game is pretty on point, as well as my striking. This fight will be amazing.”
I agree that Anderson is tough, but she’s not an elite fighter like some of the women that Nunes has faced over the last few years.
The reality is, I don’t see this fight making it to the 3rd round. I believe it will end inside the distance (-505) and Under 1.5 rounds (-105). These two women are going to come out firing and Nunes will end up dropping Anderson to finish the fight in impressive fashion.
Take Nunes to win inside the distance (-355) and via TKO/KO (+100). Nunes has 13 TKO/KO victories in her career and I expect her to pick up her 14th this weekend. That prop bet also offers the best value for this fight.
Amanda Nunes vs Megan Anderson –Amanda Nunes (-1050)
Under 1.5 rounds (-105)
Nunes wins inside the distance (-355)
Nunes wins via TKO/KO (+100)
Jan Blachowicz vs Israel Adesanya
- Jan Blachowicz (+190)
- Israel Adesanya (-230)
- Over (-150)/Under (+110) 2.5 rounds
The main event of the night is a champion vs champion fight where only the light heavyweight title will be on the line.
Blachowicz is defending the light heavyweight title for the first time as he won the vacant belt last September when he beat Dominick Reyes via 2nd round TKO.
Jan has won eight of his last nine contests including four in a row. The last two victories have come via TKO/KO. Prior to the Reyes win, Blachowicz defeated Corey Anderson via 1st round KO.
17 of his 27 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of submission. He’s 10-5 when going the distance. Three of his pro losses have come via stoppage.
A growing legacy…
🏆 Stylebender looks to take his next step at #UFC259.
— UFC (@ufc) March 2, 2021
Blachowicz believes that Adesanya is in over his head by coming up a weight class and is confident that he will knock out the undefeated middleweight champ:
“At 205 we have different power, different timing, everything is different. We will see how he will fight at 205. He will be faster than me, but speed is not everything. I have something for him, I am preparing something nice for him. If I have a chance to take him down I will do it. I watched the fight in kickboxing where he got knocked out many times. I will use my striking to knock him out.”
The undefeated middleweight champ joined the UFC a few years ago and has quickly gone 9-0 since then. He captured the title in October 2019 with an impressive 2nd round KO win over Robert Whittaker. He then defended the belt twice with wins over Romero and Costa.
His last fight was in September where he easily beat Paulo Costa via 2nd round TKO. It was another dominating performance by one of the promotion’s biggest stars. 15 of his 20 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 5-0 when going the distance.
The news coming from Adesanya’s camp is that the undefeated champ won’t bulk up to reach the 205 weight limit. Instead, there’s a good chance that he comes in 10 pounds lighter than his opponent.
With that said, you can expect Adesanya to be quicker and to fight from a distance. He will potshot Blachowicz all night long like he did Yoel Romero.
The difference is that Romero went along with that dance and Blachowicz will not. Instead, Jan will push forward where I believe he will eventually eat a TKO loss. Blachowicz is certainly a live dog in this fight, but Adesanya is a better overall fighter and he will prove it on Saturday.
I like this fight to go Over 2.5 rounds (-150), but it won’t go the full 25 minutes (-180). Take Israel to win inside the distance (+140) and via TKO/KO (+145). Adesanay winning inside the distance offers the best value.
Another wager for this fight that I really like is with the prop bet that the contest won’t start the 5th round (-155).
Jan Blachowicz vs Israel Adesanya –Adesanya (-230)
Over 2.5 rounds (-150)
Fight ends inside the distance (-180)
Adesanya wins inside the distance (+140)
Adesanya wins via TKO/KO (+145)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …