By: Frank Hyden, MMATorch Senior Columnist
The UFC recently announced that UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya will move up to light heavyweight and face UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 on March 6th. They’re trying to book this as a Superfight but that’s honestly kind of ridiculous. Nothing against either guy but Superfights are supposed to be monumental occasions, fights between guys who’ve established themselves and cleared out divisions. Maybe you could argue that Adesanya can be in a Superfight. He won the Interim UFC Middleweight Title, unified the belts in his next fight, and has defended the title twice. He’s also 20-0 in his career, with 15 knockouts, though two of his decision wins have come in the last four fights.
Anyway, you could argue that Adesanya is Superfight-worthy but the problem is Blachowicz literally just won the UFC Light Heavyweight Title in his last fight and you have a fighter in Glover Teixiera who’s more deserving of a title shot. Blachowicz has won four in a row and eight of his last nine fights. Meanwhile, Teixiera has won five straight fights. How do you not give him a title shot?
I understand that Teixiera vs. Blachowicz isn’t a sexy fight that will move the needle, but if we’re being real, it’s not like Adesanya vs. Blachowicz is going to do much better. UFC 253 did 700,000 buys and was headlined by Adesanya defending the UFC Middleweight Title against Paulo Costa but Blachowicz beating Dominick Reyes for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title was the co-main event. It’s true that Adesanya surely was the reason for the majority of those buys but I would imagine that he’s also going to be the heavy favorite in this fight. Blachowicz can definitely win this fight but it’s going to take a whale of an effort. I think the bigger question will be if Adesanya wins by knockout or decision, his striking is so good that there’s a good chance of a knockout but he might fight conservatively or Blachowicz might employ an avoidance type strategy that seeks to frustrate Adesanya.
Adesanya has already tweeted that he’s going to be a double champ. That’s cool and all, but the luster has come off of that, though. It’s not as big a deal as it once was. It’s like boxing is, where guys routinely win multiple belts in different weight classes. It’s still a good accomplishment, of course, but it’s not something that’s going to drop your jaw anymore. It’s happened so often now it’s lost some of its shine. This used to never happen and now it happens at least a few times per year.
It’s just a marketing ploy by the UFC now. It’s the same way that they used to use title shots to try to promote fighters and fight cards. The problem is, they’re running it into the ground. We see this in real life, where you’ll see some story in the media about how “He’s the 1st -insert group- to do -insert accomplishment- on a Tuesday afternoon after 6pm. That’s obviously a bit of an exaggeration but there have been seven people in the UFC to hold the title in two divisions. Randy Couture, B.J. Penn, and Georges St. Pierre at different times in their career. Four of them have held two titles at the same time. This list includes Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, Amanda Nunes, and Henry Cejudo. For the record, there have been three multi-division champions in Bellator history. Joe Warren at different times, and Ryan Bader and Patricio Freire at the same time.
So it’s been done before, and often enough that it no longer seems as special as it once was. It’s still an accomplishment, but when you’re the fifth person to do something, it’s not as important. And I certainly don’t think it’s enough to sell a $65 pay-per-view on its own.
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