TNT Sports Reload - Episode 13Oct 10
Fight cards like this don’t come around too often!
Ahead of an incredible month for mixed martial arts on BT Sport, we kick off March with a monster UFC 259 featuring three incredible world title fights as well as a host of other intriguing match-ups across the bill.
Hosted at the UFC APEX, home to the smaller-sized, all-action Octagon, there are sure to be fireworks on an evening that could see new kings and queens crowned and fresh contenders emerge across the promotion.
And the best bit yet – if you’re a BT Sport subscriber, the best card of the year comes as part of your existing package!
Here are five reasons why you need to tune in this weekend to catch all the action from inside the Octagon at UFC 259.
It’s champ vs champ!
For only the sixth time in UFC history, two reigning champions will go toe-to-toe in the main event from Las Vegas as light heavyweight king Jan Blachowicz takes on middleweight supremo Israel Adesanya.
It will be the first time ever that the middleweight champion has stepped up to face the light heavyweight ruler – and for good reason.
Separated by a gigantic 20lb difference between their native weight classes, it’s likely Adesanya will be giving up much more than that by the time the cage door closes on fight night against his enormous Polish rival.
But that is all part of the plan according to the Kiwi striker, who told ESPN this week it would be “silly” to pile too much weight onto his frame ahead of the bout.
Will that prove to be a mistake when Blachowicz gets his hands on him?
The 38-year-old former KSW champion has become the problem child of the light heavyweight division, first spoiling Luke Rockhold’s 205lb debut in destructive fashion before beating Jacare Souza and Corey Anderson on his way to crashing Dominick Reyes’ coming out party, securing the belt in emphatically violent fashion.
Write him off at your peril!
Will we see the coronation of the UFC’s next true superstar?
It’s clear for anyone who has been following MMA in recent years to see that Israel Adesanya has all the makings to be the next breakout superstar of the UFC.
Some could argue he is there already; the 31-year-old recently pocketed a lucrative Puma endorsement, provided co-commentary for the recent Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr exhibition boxing match and was crowned 2019’s New Zealand Sportsman of the Year.
But for him to truly hit the heights of emulating the likes of Conor McGregor, he needs a breakout moment akin to the Irishman’s win over Jose Aldo or his famous victory against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.
There are more than a few similarities to be observed between Adesanya’s recent ascent and that which saw ‘The Notorious’ become a global icon.
A proud member of the Nigerian diaspora, Adesanya draws upon his heritage for inspiration much in the same manner as McGregor with his Celtic roots.
And while McGregor enjoys the raucous support of the travelling Irish, Adesanya is fast becoming an icon himself in west Africa as the posterboy for the growing sport of MMA.
Both men are gifted showmen, seemingly born for the spotlight.
And while many in the UFC are able to talk the talk, only a few have walked the walk as impressively Adesanya and McGregor have.
Will Adesanya have his breakout moment in defeating Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259? You'll have to tune in to find out!
The female GOAT returns to action
Any time Amanda Nunes graces the Octagon makes for box office viewing and this weekend should be no different.
The Lioness puts one of her two world titles on the line as she defends the featherweight crown against former Invicta FC 145lb champion Megan Anderson.
Holding wins over everyone who is anyone from the world of female mixed martial arts, Nunes has distanced herself from the rest of the pack by some margin over the past few years.
She’s unbeaten since 2014, forging a legacy as dominant as any that has ever been seen in the UFC and one which fans should cherish while watching it unfold in front of them.
After all, who knows how long she’ll stick around?
The Brazilian has already hinted that retirement may not be too far away having briefly considered stepping away from the game last summer. We should all enjoy the spectacle while it lasts!
The prodigiously talented Petr Yan
Bantamweight ruler Petr Yan fought three times in the space of a year on his way to securing a shot at the 135lb title, but after defeating Jose Aldo on Fight Island last summer to claim the vacant strap, the Russian has yet to defend his throne.
There’s no doubting the 28-year-old’s ability; as skilled a striker as you will see in the UFC complete with solid grappling and an indomitable spirit that has become synonymous with fighters from his native Russia.
But it’s a shame his first defence of the belt has taken almost eight months given his prolific activity in the Octagon before then.
In Aljamain Sterling, Yan has found the perfect opponent to remind us fight fans of his skills.
Sterling, 31, is a worthy number one contender, very capable of causing an upset to secure the belt for himself.
He’s lost just one of his last eight fights with his previous victory coming in the very first round against the impressive Cory Sandhagen.
Is Yan the man – or will Sterling snatch the gold?
Islam Makhachev - the next Dagestani champion?
There must be something in the water in Dagestan.
Russian star Islam Makhachev comes into main card appearance at UFC 259 having this week been tipped as a future UFC champion by two men who know what it takes.
Both Daniel Cormier and Khabib Nurmagomedov believe their 29-year-old American Kickboxing Academy team-mate will creep toward title contention in the 155lb division by the end of the year.
"For 10 straight years, we've had title fights out of AKA," Cormier told ESPN.
"How do we continue that? Islam is the guy. We all believe right now Islam is our next best chance to have someone great."
Makhachev, riding a six-fight win streak, faces Drew Dober, himself riding an impressive three-fight win streak, at UFC 259 seeking to bolster his case for a top 10 opponent next time out.
Have Khabib and Cormier crowned the right man? Find out at UFC 259.