Jan Blachowicz defended his light heavyweight title with a win over previously unbeaten Israel Adesanya.

Jan Blachowicz defended his UFC light heavyweight title with a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 on Saturday night, thwarting Adesanya’s bid to hold two championship belts simultaneously.

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The 38-year-old Blachowicz (28-8) made his first title defense after weathering an impressive start by Adesanya (20-1), the fearsome middleweight champion moving up for a shot at history. The Polish champion turned their fight with two huge takedowns and subsequent ground control in the fourth and fifth rounds.

The judges scored the fight 49-46, 49-45, 49-45 as Blachowicz handed Adesanya the first loss of his mixed martial arts career.

Blachowicz ended the fight in full mount while raining down punches on Adesanya, who had never lost in a mixed martial arts career that began in 2012. Adesanya, the charismatic Nigerian-born New Zealander, failed to join Amanda Nunes, Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo as the UFC’s only simultaneous two-belt champions.

Adesanya was the sharper, more aggressive striker in the early rounds, but Blachowicz survived the onslaught and eventually implemented his game plan. Blachowicz turned the fight in the fourth round with an impressive takedown and strong ground work, all but forcing the judges to give him the round.

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The charismatic Nigerian-born New Zealander failed to join Amanda Nunes, Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo as the UFC’s only simultaneous two-belt champions.

Adesanya took his first setback in stride.

“Losses are part of life,” Adesanya said. “This is just my first one in MMA. If I was going to lose to anyone, what better guy to lose to than a guy like Jan? Classy champion, cool dude, nice guy. He has a great story to tell. From almost getting cut from the UFC, he becomes a champion and hands this guy, a future legend, his first loss.”

Adesanya’s eight-fight win streak in the UFC came to an end against Blachowicz, who took the 205-pound belt in 2020 after stopping Dominick Reyes.

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“I thought he would be a little bit faster,” Blachowicz said. “But he hit harder than I thought.”

The Polish star admitted he was taken aback by Adesenya’s power, although he thought he dealt well with his speed.

“I thought he would be a little bit faster, but he hit harder than I thought,” Blachowicz said.

“I knew that I was going to be better on the ground. I had to just wait for the good moment. He was a little bit tired so I waited for the good moment and tried to use it. If I would have knocked him out it would be better. But because he is one of the best of the world, I’m happy.”

UFC president Dana White slammed the scoring of the fight, taking aim at a series of 10-8 rounds awarded to the polish fighter.

“The scoring was insane, they’re giving out 10-8’s like…” he said. “There were two rounds in that fight that they gave as a 10-8. When I came up in the fight business, a 10-8 was an a– whooping. You got your a– whooped. You didn’t do s— in that round if it was a 10-8. This 10-8 s— is out of control right now. So hopefully we can get this fixed. They’re going to screw up a lot of fights if they’re handing out 10-8s like that. There was no 10-8 in that fight.”

He was asked about it again later and continued to slam the judges.

“I think we can all agree, that fight wasn’t 4-1. That’s bats–t nuts. If anyone watching that fight thinks it’s 4-1, they’re bats–t nuts, it was even going into the last round. And Israel was winning the first half of the round and then Jan took him down and won the fight in the second half of the round. The only thing that makes that 4-1 is ridiculous 10-8 rounds. It’s a big problem with judging that needs to be fixed.”

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