UFC 259 will be taking place live from the UFC Apex on Saturday, March 6th. I understand that the event is a little bit of a ways away, but I think that it could be appropriate (and fun) to shoot out some early predictions for the evening's fights.
The first fight I want to talk about is Joseph Benavidez vs Askar Askarov. Unfortunately for Joey Jitsu, I see Askarov winning by either decision or ground strikes. So far, Askarov has an undefeated record and I believe that going up against a weathered veteran of the game may be helpful to extend his winning streak as Joe has not won in the UFC since June of 2019 when he defeated Jussier Formiga.
Next we will jump to Dominick Cruz vs Casey Kenney. I believe that Cruz will be able to win via decision. I think that Cruz has a masterful mind for the game which will be something that Kenney has never seen before. I believe even after a rough recent outing, Cruz's funky style will be enough, even at 35, to get the job done. Although if Keith Peterson is officiating this one, maybe there will be a different outcome...
Now to the main card we have Thiago Santos and Alexander Rakic. Personally, this is one of the more difficult fights to predict on this card. I was really high on Santos going in to his fight against Glover Texeira last year, and Santos did well and even hurt Glover, but when he got brought to the ground and the going got tough, it was an easy submission for Glover. Rakic has proven to be an exceptionally formidable striker and his striking % of 88.7% and a significant striking % of 77.2% proves this from his fight against Anthony Smith. Both fighters have some serious power to their punch, but for some reason I'm leaning towards a Rakic win by either KO/TKO or decision in this one, although I wouldn't necessarily be shocked with a Santos victory either.
Directly following that we have Islam Makhachev and Drew Dober. At the moment, Islam is a prospect with the attention of many fans of the sport and Dober is a true veteran of the UFC. I believe that this will be a great fight. However, I can see a decision or submission win for Islam but I'm leaning more towards a decision win based off his past's lack of finishes.
Now things get extremely interesting. Petr Yan will be making his first bantamweight title defense against first time title challenger Aljamain Sterling. Both fighters are coming off impressive wins, Jose Aldo and Cory Sandhagen respectively. This fight also has a little bitter blood between the two as Aljo has repeatedly called Yan a "paper champ" and makes claims that he isn't a real champion. This may be against the norm but in this one, I got Aljo by submission in either the 4th or 5th round.
The Co-Main event of the evening features the women's MMA GOAT, Amanda Nunes going up against Australia's Megan Anderson for the Women's featherweight strap. I don't think many would disagree with me for saying I believe Nunes will retain her title against Anderson and I believe she will get it done any way she wants to. I know that sounds very broad but I believe she is better in all aspects and I think Anderson's only chance is to keep her distance and strategically out-strike her.
Finally, the biggest fight of the evening. Israel Adesanya will be making his light heavyweight debut and challenging for UFC gold against Jan Blachowicz, who took the belt that Jon Jones vacated. Jan won this against Dominick Reyes at UFC 253, Izzy's last title fight from last September. I think that Izzy will be too much for Jan and I wouldn't be surprised if the first couple rounds were slow and steady. Both fighters are counter-strikers and are not usually known for flurries and aggression. I don't believe Jan will be able to keep with Izzy's pace later in the fight, therefore I see a 4th or 5th round KO victory for Izzy and a brand new double champ.
Obviously these are just one person's predictions and anything can happen, especially in MMA. However, I believe that these are the most likely outcomes. Give some feedback; what do you agree with, disagree with, what did I miss, etc. Anything helps.