By Jessica Collins
On March 6, the Ultimate Fighting Championship put on one of the most anticipated cards of the year, and probably of all time. The main kicker of this card was that there were three championship fights, and each fight had the potential to see a champ uncrowned. However, the entire card was stacked, from the early prelims to the headliners.
Right from the start, the card was exciting with the first five fights ending with a finish. This included the Fight of the Night, with Kennedy Nzechukwu knocking out Carlos Ulberg cold. The performance bonuses were awarded to Uroš Medić, who had an early TKO over Aalon Cruz, and Kai-Kara France who had a comeback knockout over Rogério Bontorin.
Bantamweight (135lbs) Championship Fight: Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling
The first of the three title fights was probably one of the most unexpected and unusual championships in UFC history. For most of the fight, former champ Petr “No Mercy” Yan was convincingly defeating challenger Aljamain “Funk Master” Sterling. However, shortly into the fourth round, Yan threw an illegal knee to Sterling’s head, a downed opponent. The knee severely hurt Sterling, and the referee called off the fight after consulting with the doctor. Yan was disqualified, and Sterling became the undisputed champion.
“How the fight ended was just weird,” MMA fan Rob LaGoy said. “I get it, an illegal knee was thrown and I’m sure Yan didn’t mean it in any way, shape or form.”
During his post-fight interview, Sterling said that he didn’t want to win the belt that way, even throwing it down after UFC President Dana White put it around his waist. Hours later, he was seen having a party and posing with the belt. LaGoy thinks that Sterling is soaking up the attention from the win, even though three years ago he made comments about making illegal moves legal. Yan apologized on Twitter and hoped for Sterling to recover quickly. Since then Yan and Sterling have exchanged tweets still showing they have a bit of a rivalry, only exemplified by the result of the bout. This will most likely result in a rematch as Sterling is the new champ, but Yan was winning most of the fight, so making the bout will be a big payday for the UFC.
“It should have been announced as a no-contest overall,” LaGoy said. “Hopefully a rematch is set in stone sooner than later.”
Women’s Featherweight Championship: Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson
Women’s MMA G.O.A.T. Amanda Nunes returned to defend her Featherweight belt at UFC259 against number one contender Megan Anderson. The fight went as most Nunes fights go, with complete dominance and a quick finish. Nunes submitted Anderson with a triangle armbar in the first round.
“Nunes always comes in with that fire,” LaGoy said. “I’m not surprised but I am amazed how she’s still trucking along as the best women’s champ to ever walk into the octagon.”
This was Nunes’ second title defense of her 145 beltsbelt, and she plans to move back down to 135 to defend that belt as well. She has basically wiped out the 145 division, so the UFC might have difficulty finding opponents for her to defend her second belt from. Recently, Nunes welcomed a baby girl, Raegan, with her wife and fellow UFC fighter, Nina Ansaroff. This, according to her post-fight interview, has motivated her even more.
“The Lioness is always dangerous, but when she has a baby, nobody can stop her.”
Light Heavyweight Championship: Jan Błachowicz vs. Israel Adesanya
The main event was a championship bout between current light heavyweight champion Jan Błachowicz and current middleweight champion and undefeated UFC superstar Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya. This fight was at 205 lbs, the light heavyweight limit and had the possibility for middleweight champ to become only the fifth UFC fighter in history to hold two belts in two weight classes simultaneously. The fight was a steady, technical bout and ended in a unanimous victory for the champ.
“I thought Izzy would put on more of a performance but overall I think it was technical as it was going to get,” LaGoy said. “Błachowiz had those takedowns to really seal the deal.”
Adesanya was not too broken up over the decision, as he has had over 100 combat fights in his career and has lost multiple times in boxing and kickboxing. This was only his first in professional MMA. Now, Stylebender is looking to move back down to middleweight and defend against Darren Till or the winner of Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa.
“I hope Jan keeps dominating and I hope Izzy doesn’t take this loss too close to heart because he’s got the most pride and enthusiasm in any current UFC fighter out there today,” LaGoy said.
Overall, the card did not disappoint, and the UFC has several events coming up that are sure to be hits among the fanbase. These include UFC260, with two title fights: heavyweights Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2 and featherweights Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega, and two free fight nights between the two PPVs. These are headlined by Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad and Derek Brunson vs. Kevin Holland.