Israel Adesanya will move up to light-heavyweight for UFC 259 and he has revealed his intentions for his future as middleweight champion after the event and much more — Your Friday Fightful fix has all your MMA news here.
Israel Adesanya "definitely" returning to middleweight after UFC 259
Israel Adesanya isn't looking to abandon the 185lb division even if he defeats Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 and becomes a double champion. "The Last Stylebender" is currently the undisputed middleweight champion and even though he is moving up in weight for this fight, he will be looking to take a page out of Amanda Nunes' book and defend both belts if his quest is successful.
“I’ll definitely go back down to 185,” Adesanya told MMA Junkie. “I have something else in my head that might interest (me after). But definitely going back down to 185 is my goal. I want to keep my division moving.”
His coach isn't looking quite as far ahead as the Kiwi and is anticipating the "hardest fight" of Adesanya's career. Eugene Bareman is well aware of the threats of Blachowicz and admits that the "Polish Power" he possesses makes this an incredibly difficult challenge to overcome.
“This is Israel’s hardest fight by quite a bit. I think this is a jump up from any of his previous challengers. And for all intents and purposes within our camp, we are building ourselves as the underdogs. And we’re doing that based on we’re giving away this size and weight advantage that we sometimes have in our favor. Now we’re gonna give it away. So, it’s just a very hard (fight)," Bareman told Submission Radio (h/t BJPenn.com). "What we’re about to attempt here is, people don’t understand, a very, very difficult endeavor and a very risky one, and one that makes for all us coaches and Israel, it makes the hairs on the back of our necks stand up. Because this is a true, true challenge – a hefty challenge. And it’s a scary one, and it’s one that gets you up early in the morning and wanting to attack it. And we’ve had a great camp because it’s just a highly motivating fight. And it’s a highly motivating fight because it’s such a dangerous fight.”
Aleksandar Rakic hopes Israel Adesanya wins at UFC 259
One man who is hoping for a new light-heavyweight champion at UFC 259 is Alexsandar Rakic. Rakic (13-2) is facing off against Thiago Santos (21-8) in the opener and is hoping that a win over the former contender will catapult him to a title shot. And due to Adesnaya being more of a star in the MMA world, Rakic is cheering on the middleweight champion on Saturday but only so he can take the title from him.
“Honestly I would like to fight Israel,” Rakic said (h/t MMA Junkie). “He’s the biggest name. All respect to Jan, he’s the champion, but Israel is the bigger name. To fight against him and to win against him and take all his legacy would be great.”
Dana White: "I have no idea what’s going to happen with Khamzat Chimaev"
Dana White has admitted that he isn't aware of what is happening to Khamzat Chimaev as he continues his battle to get over the effects of COVID-19. Chimaev's brother has revealed that he has been coughing blood and White was asked in the pre-UFC 259 press conference and has revealed he is uncertain what the future holds for Chimaev.
“To be honest with you, I have no idea what’s going to happen with him,” White said (h/t MMA Fighting). “I don’t know.”
Amanda Nunes lays out her bold prediction for finishing Megan Anderson at UFC 259
Amanda Nunes has cleaned out the women's featherweight division with speculation that this could be the last fight in the division due to a lack of competition for the "Lioness" at that weight. Australian Megan Anderson has stepped up next to dethrone the Brazilian and despite being a massive favorite in the fight, Nunes is well aware of the threat Anderson poses and how she can use it to end the fight.
“She has the reach advantage, she is tall. I feel like she is very dangerous,” Nunes said at the UFC 259 pre-fight press conference. “I feel like that is a huge part of her gameplan because she is tall and long. That can be a little difficult to figure out. But, in the first exchange if I find my timing, everything, I will finish it.”
Dominick Cruz elaborates on request to not have Keith Peterson referee UFC 259 fight
Dominick Cruz seems to have been granted his wish for UFC 259. Cruz has requested that Keith Peterson doesn't referee his fight with Casey Kenney. Cruz and Peterson had a heated debate following the commentator's loss to Henry Cejudo, with Cruz being adamant the stoppage was far too early.
“I made the request, and you hope the commission can honor your request. But when it all comes down to it, they run things, right? They have control over everything," Cruz admitted (h/t MMA Junkie).
According to Cruz, UFC officials have indicated his request will be obliged. The issue with Peterson isn’t personal, Cruz said. Cruz's main gripe with Peterson has been that he has claimed Peterson smelled “like alcohol and cigarettes” hours before the fight.
“(UFC vice president of regulatory affairs) Marc Ratner alluded he was able to make that possible for me." It’s not that I hate this guy or anything. This is a business thing, and I did not feel like he was doing his just. There are plenty of refs. I’ve never had an issue with any other ref in the history of my career – before the fight started. I had an issue with him before the fight started in the locker room. So that’s what made me stand by the fact that I’d prefer another ref.”
Casey Kenney believes Dominick Cruz looked “slow” in his return fight
Casey Kenney is well aware of the threats that Dominick Cruz still possesses. Cruz is on a two-fight losing streak but despite this, Kenney is weary that Cruz could roll back the years and put on a clinic that we used to see.
“He had a little spurts of his old self and spurts of being slow. The way it finished with the knee, if they run that fight again it probably doesn’t end like that,” Kenney explained to BJPenn.com. “I’m not counting him out. But, he looked pretty decent in bits and pieces in that Cejudo fight, I expect a tough Dominick Cruz but I got a handful for him.”
Drew Dober confident he can get up from Islam Makhachev takedown
Drew Dober is prepared for the style that Islam Makhachev will implement for their fight at UFC 259. Throughout his career, Dober has struggled with grapplers which he admits. He also knows he will get taken down by Makhachev in this fight but plans on making the Russian’s life there as uncomfortable as possible.
“Absolutely. You can’t completely avoid a takedown. It will be a wrestling match with punches, I know I will be on my back at some point,” Dober explained. “I’m fully prepared for this fight to be a grappling match and I can’t avoid that. I’m just trying to make his life uncomfortable for the 15 minutes we are in there. Whether it is with my hands or feet, or my wrestling or my jiu-jitsu my goal is to make him comfortable and make him make a mistake.”
Although Drew Dober knows he will get taken down, he is confident he will get back to his feet. Once they get back to standing up, Dober believes he will find Makhachev’s chin and knock the Russian out.
Thiago Santos felt a mix of fear, anxiety in return from double-knee surgery against Glover Teixeira
Thiago Santos was very close to dethroning Jon Jones in 2019 as light-heavyweight champion but after returning to action to Glover Teixeira after double knee surgery, he suffered a disappointing loss via submission. Now after getting his focus back, "Marreta" said he feels “physically better” this time around, and his mind was his biggest enemy back in November.
“If you watch it, I only threw one kick the entire fight. I didn’t kick too much. I usually kick a lot. I did more boxing. I think it was a [mental] block, a year and a half away, so that was the main difference. Now I know everything is normal again, everything is fine, so I can do everything inside the octagon," Santos said to MMA Fighting.
“I think I needed to live this whole experience again, I need to enter the octagon, feel that adrenaline. I think that’s what was missing for me to finish my recovery. I needed to feel that. It was excellent, and I feel recovered now.”
Isaac Dulgarian excited to make pro debut at FAC 7
Isaac Dulgarian (0-0) makes his pro debut versus Sam Hernandez (2-2) in a main card 145-pound bout at FAC 7 in Kansas City. Having conquered the amateur circuit, Dulgarian turns his attention to the pro ranks in 2021.
“For me, my keys to victory are doing what I do every day: if I fight at my pace and fight wherever I want the rest will take care of itself. I’ll be the one determining if we’re standing up or on the ground. I’m okay going anywhere with (Hernandez). He’s a scrappy fighter, he’s tough, he’s not going to back down, so that’s exciting to me,” Dulgarian said to MMA Weekly.
If 2021 goes the way Dulgarian expects, he is hoping to make it on to Dana White's Contender Series and catapult his UFC career.
“I have the goal to be 3-0 by the end of the year. If I can get three fights, hopefully three finishes, next year I can look at getting on the Contender Series.”