I had my doubts about Israel Adesanya’s plan to move up in weight to eventually match up with Jon “Bones” Jones.
I am of the belief that fighters should fight in the weight class where they are most comfortable, weight-wise as this gives them optimum power, strength and speed.
Some fighters move up in weight eventually as they age and this is the normal trajectory for most.
In Adesanya’s case, he was dominating the middleweight division, and I thought he needed more fights at this weight class especially because of his lanky frame. Or probably a couple of tune-ups at light heavy to let the added poundage settle in before going for the crown.
But “Style Bender” would have none of that and last Sunday, March 7, at UFC 259 he moved up to the light heavyweight division and lost badly to reigning UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.
Izzy relies on his speed too much as a cornerstone of his success. Sacrificing that for some heft was to me a poor choice, at this point in his career. Blachowicz was the bigger, stronger guy and he eventually wore down the smaller man.
THE FIGHT. The flashy Adesanya looked good at the start, and he landed with some significant strikes that looked promising. His feints also threw off Blachowicz a bit who is more of a no-nonsense, feral striker.
Both men fought evenly the first three rounds, with Blachowicz landing his fair share of punches and kicks. I thought Adesanya’s strikes looked impressive, but the champion’s heavier punches did more serious damage.
In the championship rounds, the defending champion eventually took over from a fading “Style Bender.” All other things being equal, the bigger guy will always wear down the smaller one, and this is exactly what happened in this fight.
Blachowicz scored several takedowns and did some nasty ground and pound. He was so dominant that two of the three judges gave him a 10-8 round in the 5th.
In the end, the scores of 49-46 and 49-45 twice were fair and emblematic of what transpired.
HEAVY. Now, reports have come out that the team’s original plan was for him to go all the way up to the heavyweight division to fight Stipe Miocic if they had gotten past Blachowicz to become the first ever three-weight UFC champion.
Tsk, tsk... I think they are putting too much on Izzy’s plate and he bit off more than he could chew.
As great as he is, there is a reason why we have weight classes in fight sports. Only a select few have been able to get away with being the smaller fighter, overcome the weight disadvantage and beat the bigger man on account of superior skill and speed.
In Izzy’s case, he wasn’t badly beaten and outclassed. He just didn’t have enough. Of course, he can try again. But for now, it’s back to the middleweight division for him.
VERBATIM. “I think I can answer this because it is beside the point now, we lost. If we won the title, for me and our management team, we were going to go all the way. —Eugene Bareman, Israel Adesanya’s coach (www.bjpenn.com)
LAST ROUND. It’s on the prettiest breast surgeon in town, Dr. Frances de la Serna, who celebrated her birthday yesterday. Cheers!