Nigeria’s Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion, Israel ‘The Last Syle Bender’ Adesanya has been tipped to win the light heavyweight belt this Saturday then go on the claim a third world title in The Octagon.
While Adesanya is considered the underdog in Saturday night’s main event on UFC 259, as he has stepped up in weight to challenge the holder, Jan Blachowicz, Yahoo Sports’ combat columnist, Kevin Iole believe the New Zealand-based Nigerian fighter has great potentials to rank among the world’s best.
Megasportsarena.com gathered that only four fighters in the UFC have held two belts simultaneously and Adesanya will be looking to join that elite company that has Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, Henry Cejudo and Amanda Nunes with ‘champ-champ’ statuses to their names.
Fight experts believe it is tougher to bridge the gap between the UFC’s 185lb and 205lb ranks but, while Adesanya insists he his fight preparations have put him in good stead to win a second title, former middleweight ace, Mark Weir is not convinced.
“He says he’s training the same. He’s still going to jump in the sauna. Don’t be surprised if he comes in at the top end of 190, not the 200-mark,” Weir told Sky Sports; but Iole stated a contrary view in his preview to Saturday’s fight in Las Vegas, USA.
Iole opined that ‘The Last Style Bender’ will not only win on Saturday but even go on to claim an unprecedented third UFC world title, adding: “Israel Adesanya was not made for this. Oh, the UFC’s middleweight champion is a born fighter, if ever there was one.
“He’s smart, talented and ambitious, and just three years since he debuted in the UFC, he’s about to challenge light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz for his second belt. Adesanya would become only the fifth fighter in UFC history to achieve that feat, following Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, Amanda Nunes and Henry Cejudo.
“Adesanya and Blachowicz will headline UFC 259 on Saturday at Apex in front of, at max, 200 people and no fans. Adesanya belongs in a building in front of 50,000 screaming fans, not in a television studio where few can appreciate his brilliance up close.
“As great as he already is, with a 20-0 record, a No. 2 ranking in the Yahoo Sports pound-for-pound list and making a bid at becoming a champ-champ, it pales in comparison to what he might become.
“His eye wanders. He is not one to look past his upcoming opponent, but he also knows that boundaries are simply barriers set by someone else. Just because only four other people have held championships in two weight classes concurrently doesn’t mean it’s too much for him to become the fifth.
“And just because no one has ever held a title in three weight classes at once doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to try. If Adesanya beats Blachowicz, at some point in the not-too-distant future, he’ll make a bid for the heavyweight championship, as well.
“It probably won’t happen if Francis Ngannou defeats Stipe Miocic in the main event of UFC 260 on March 27, and not just because Adesanya and Ngannou are friends. Ngannou cuts weight to make the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds and it’s probably not a match-up that makes sense for Adesanya.
“But if the champion were to be Jon Jones, the former light heavyweight champion and Adesanya’s great rival, well, that is a different story. Should he defeat Blachowicz, he’ll do what Amanda Nunes, one of the four others to have become UFC champ-champs, has done and defend both.”