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Fallout from UFC 259: What’s next for those involved?

Fallout from UFC 259: What’s next for those involved?

Another UFC pay-per-view is in the books, and as always, there is plenty to unpack. UFC 259 had it all, from submissions to knockouts and even disqualifications. With three title fights to wrap up the 15-fight day we expected to see fireworks at UFC 259, but I am sure no one expected this card-of-the year-contender to play out the way it did.

The first of three title fights seemed to be the talk of the card following the controversial finish. The Bantamweight champion at night’s end was not the same guy who walked in with the belt.

Petr Yan, who defeated Jose Aldo last July to claim the vacated title, was stellar in his first title defense against rising star Aljamain Sterling. Sterling pushed the pace for the nearly four rounds this fight took to resolve. Sterling, however, seemed to gas out as the fight continued, ultimately resulting in what was the final blow of Yan’s first championship run. As Sterling gathered himself from the ground, Yan struck him in the head with a powerful knee, resulting in a pause in the fight and the ultimate decision from referee Mark Smith to deem Yan disqualified for an illegal strike.

Per the Unified Rules of MMA, which the Nevada Athletic Commission adopts for UFC events, a knee or kick to the head while an opponent is deemed grounded is illegal. Sterling was very obviously concussed, and Smith called the fight off, crowning Sterling the undisputed UFC Bantamweight champion of the world.

The exact words from the rulebook are that fouls can be allocated at discretion for “Kneeing and/or kicking the head of a grounded opponent. A grounded fighter is defined as: Any part of the body, other than a single hand and soles of the feet touching the fighting area floor. To be grounded, both hands palm/fist down, and/or any other body part must be touching the fighting area floor. A single knee, arm, makes the fighter grounded without having to have any other body part in touch with the fighting area floor. At this time, kicks or knees to the head will not be allowed.”

Blachowicz’s ground game and pure Light Heavyweight build proved to be too much for the Middleweight king.”

The bout between Megan Anderson and the consensus greatest female fighter of all time, Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes, for the UFC’s Women’s Featherweight championship was just the second of three title fights on March 6. This bout, however, was short and sweet for the two-division champion, Nunes.

Nunes made quick work of Anderson, who many thought to be the champ’s biggest challenge to date, submitting the Australian challenger in two minutes and three seconds. Nunes only absorbed two strikes during the fight while landing 19 of her own. The fight quickly made it to the ground where the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt quickly applied an armbar submission and called it a night.

The evening concluded with the main event for the Light Heavyweight title between Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and the defending champion Jan Blachowicz. In a closely contested fight, the belt failed to change hands as Blachowicz defeated Adesanya by unanimous decision.

When the fighters were on their feet, the fight was close, which says a lot about Blachowicz’s kickboxing, but two key takedowns in the fourth and fifth rounds proved to be the difference. Two judges scored the fight 49-45, which means they gave the Light Heavyweight champ four of the five rounds and scored the fifth round as a 10-8.

With the brutal way the fight played out on March 6 between Yan and Sterling, the new 135-pound champ is going to need some time to recover.”

10-8 rounds are saved for dominant, one-sided rounds, and many people, including UFC President Dana White, don’t believe there were any 10-8 rounds in the main event. Nonetheless, the right guy won the fight. Blachowicz’s ground game and pure Light Heavyweight build proved to be too much for the Middleweight king.

Some think the next fight for UFC Bantamweight gold will feature the same two fighters. The question is, when will that be?

With the brutal way the fight played out on March 6 between Yan and Sterling, the new 135-pound champ is going to need some time to recover. Sterling is going to be placed on medical suspension for at least 60 days. That time away should give Sterling time to figure out the puzzle that is Yan and give Yan some time to look over the MMA rule book.

While there is an answer for what’s next for Yan and Sterling, the controversy will put Cory Sandhagen’s (2nd ranked Bantamweight contender) future in question. It seems he may be placed in a number one contender match with former Bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, who is coming off of a two-year suspension, with the winner of that getting the winner of Yan v. Sterling 2.

The UFC seems to be struggling to keep its female 145-pound division afloat. With Nunes once again clearing out the Featherweight division, it is time to return to Bantamweight for Nunes and defend the title that she so strongly holds there. With the May 8 bout between Holly Holm and Julianna Pena canceled, Nunes might just have her match.

Nunes sustained little damage in her fight with Anderson on March 6, and outside of a newborn daughter and an upcoming weight cut, she is ready to fight. Pena is primed and ready to test the two-division champ for the 135-pound belt, and the UFC president seems to be interested in that matchup as well. This bout is likely to be the next title fight in the women’s Bantamweight division, and it is likely to take place in early summer if Nunes accepts.

For the Light Heavyweight champion Blachowicz, his next fight seems to be the clearest following his successful defense on March 6. It seems Glover Teixeira will be the next title challenger at 205 pounds. Teixeira is currently on a five-fight win streak, his last win coming via submission last November against Thiago Santos. He weighed in on March 5 to be the replacement fighter for the main event, and it appears he will get a title shot of his own sometime later this year.

For Adesanya, his quest for double champ status falls short and his perfect record is perfect no more, but his story is far from over. The 31-year-old is still king of his division and is looking to return to 185 pounds this year. With no clear number-one contender in the Middleweight division, it may be some time before Adesanya is back in the octagon.

A future rematch versus Robert Whittaker could be on the horizon if Whittaker is able to defeat Paulo Costa in April, but even then Adesanya would have to wait for any recovery time and give the former 185-pound champ time for a championship training camp. Unless he falls to Costa, Whittaker has defeated the three men behind him in the rankings, so it seems he would be the next one up.

The UFC returns to pay-per-view at the end of the month. A card headlined by future Hall-of-Famer Stipe Miocic as he puts his Heavyweight title on the line against the dangerously powerful Francis Ngannou on March 27.

by Kaleb Allen