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UFC 259 preview: Israel Adesanya promises to break champ-champ mold by returning to middleweight

Anybody else over the whole “champ champ” thing?

I’ll admit it was kinda cool when Conor McGregor lived up to his word and captured the lightweight title, not long after claiming gold at 145 pounds. I didn’t exactly stand and cheer when the feat was replicated by Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo; but hey, good for them.

Sorry, but Amanda Nunes doesn’t count because there’s no such thing as a women’s featherweight division, which is why the promotion leaves it blank on the official rankings page. Can you name five 145-pound contenders who aren’t puffed-up bantamweights?


The “champ champ” phenomenon is back in the news because reigning middleweight titleholder Israel Adesanya will climb to 205 pounds to battle light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259, in what marks the Polish power puncher’s first title defense since flattening Dominick Reyes last September.

But the one downside to having a champion hold simultaneous titles in two different weight classes is that one of them inevitably gets screwed. McGregor never went back down to featherweight, just as Cormier and Cejudo opted to remain at the heavier weight. Not only does it bog down the division, it casts a shadow of doubt over the successor.

For example, Max Holloway never had to rematch McGregor en route to the title.

Adesanya (20-0) wants to break that mold by returning to middleweight after winning the 205-pound title on Sat. night (March 6) in Las Vegas and for the purposes of this preview we’ll treat it like a foregone conclusion but in reality, that’s hardly the case. Just ask Reyes, or Luke Rockhold, or countless others who faced the 27-8 Blachowicz.

“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.”

If Adesanya does in fact return to middleweight, that leaves No. 1-ranked light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira pissing in the wind, so to speak, along with Aleksandar Rakic — assuming “Rocket” is able to make a statement against Thiago Santos, a 205-pound showdown that also takes place at UFC 259.

“If Adesanya wins, what happens then? Will Adesanya defend at 185 or 205? I don’t know,” Teixeira told MMA Fighting. “If that means sitting down and waiting until June, August, I don’t know, maybe I would wait, I don’t mind.”

I’m not sure what spoils await Adesanya at 185 pounds. Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, and “The Last Stylebender” has already stopped both of them. Darren Till has also entered the chat in recent weeks but “The Gorilla” has dropped three of his last four and is parked miles away from a title shot.

We also have to factor Jon Jones into the equation. The promotion is prepared to send Adesanya into battle against “Bones,” depending on how well the former light heavyweight champion performs at heavyweight, where he’s expected to draw the winner of Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou and create yet another divisional logjam.


“Blachowicz winning would be better for me,” Teixeira said. “And better for everyone else.”

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