A lot has been made in the days leading up to UFC 259 about Israel Adesanya’s move to light heavyweight and his resistance to change much of anything prior to fighting at 205 pounds.
Both the reigning middleweight champion and his head coach Eugene Bareman have said repeatedly that he’s not adding on any extra size ahead of his showdown with light heavyweight king Jan Blachowicz. In fact, Adesanya teased recently that he might come in well under the 205-pound limit for the main event fight that pits champion against champion.
Maybe it’s all true or perhaps Adesanya is just trying to play head games ahead of the fight but either scenario isn’t affecting Blachowicz as he prepares to defend his light heavyweight title for the first time on Saturday night.
“That’s what they say on the internet, I don’t believe in this thing,” Blachowicz told MMA Fighting ahead of UFC 259. “I focus on me, on my preparation, on my camp. I train with faster, lighter guys, I train with guys from my category. I also train with heavyweight guys. Because we will see on the day, one day before the fight, and fight day his size and then we’re going to be ready for everything.
“That’s why I train with faster guys, lighter guys, my category and with the heavyweight guys. Because I want to be ready for everything. This as you know is a game, this is business and you have to be ready for everything.”
Regardless of how much Adesanya will weigh on Friday or when he steps into the octagon for the fight, Blachowicz knows that competing at light heavyweight is a different animal.
Even if Adesanya spent his entire training camp clashing with bigger, stronger sparring partners, Blachowicz knows that’s still won’t give him the full experience of trading punches with a true 205-pound fighter.
“I will tell you after the fight. I don’t know,” Blachowicz responded when asked if Adesanya is big enough for light heavyweight. “I just saw him a couple of times before his fight against [Paulo] Costa and me at the same event. So I just saw him a couple of times but I don’t know. We will see in the fight, on the day of the fight and after the fight. You can call me and we will see.
“But for sure, he’s going to feel something different than he’s felt before. Because at 205, everything is different. Power is different. Speed is different. Even if you train with light heavyweight guys and heavyweight guys, this is only sparring. The fight got its own rules and he’s going to feel it. This is good for me. 205 is my category. I do this all my life. I feel everything inside octagon over there. It’s going to be better for me.”
Since arriving in the UFC, Adesanya has often talked about eventually conquering multiple divisions considering he fought across numerous weight classes while he was competing in kickboxing.
He teased a move to light heavyweight during numerous exchanges with former champion Jon Jones and he’s even hinted at an eventual shift to heavyweight to potentially claim three UFC titles.
That said, Adesanya has never fought at 205 pounds in the UFC and Blachowicz has heard it all before with past opponents like former champion Luke Rockhold moving up from middleweight while calling him slow and stiff. Blachowicz proceeded to shatter Rockhold’s jaw with a vicious left hand when they finally met in the octagon.
In this case, Blachowicz feels like Adesanya might be in for a similar rude awakening come Saturday night.
“Because I’ve got the legendary Polish power and when he feels it, he feels it for real,” Blachowicz said. “You will see.
“After first kick or the first punch, he’s going to know what I’m talking about when I’m talking about the legendary Polish power.”
Another factor that Adesanya will have to deal with this weekend is the possibility that Blachowicz mixes in a takedown to test his grappling.
While Adesanya has invited past opponents to take him to the ground, Blachowicz will undoubtedly have a size and power advantage in the fight and that can also come into play during grappling exchanges.
Of course, Blachowicz isn’t giving away any secrets, but he hopes Adesanya is ready for a true mixed martial arts contest.
“If I’m going to have a chance to take him down, I will do this,” Blachowicz teased. “I will try to submit him. I will do ground and pound, something like this. All fights start stand up and I also like fighting stand up. So I’m preparing something for him in striking. You’ll just have to wait until March 6 and watch the fight.”
Never afraid to call his shot, Blachowicz is getting ready for Adesanya like he’s the toughest opposition he’ll ever face but he’s also prepared to end this fight early just like he did against Corey Anderson and Dominick Reyes in his two most recent wins.
When asked for a prediction, Blachowicz could only smile and offer one possibility.
“Second round, KO by high kick left leg for this guy,” Blachowicz said. “Yes this time kick. This is what I see. In this moment when we’re talking.”