UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya is set up to be one of the biggest cards of the year. With 3 championship fights on the main card, UFC 259 runs deep. There are great matchups through the rest of the card, setting a high bar for Card of the Year.
Featured in this installment of Guide to the Prelims are a number of bright prospects looking make a name for themselves. Whenever there is a spotlight on a big PPV, there is a spotlight on the undercard as well. So there is always an opportunity for someone to make a big impression with more viewers.
For UFC 259, it was hard to decide what fights to talk about, and which fights to leave out. But it is important to give credit, where it is due. So, take a look at this edition of Guide to the Prelims, UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya to see who might be primed to take advantage of the crowded spotlight.
Carlos Ulberg vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (light heavyweight)
Carlos Ulberg is a teammate of Adesanya, because of that, he has got some hype behind him. With a first-round finish on Contender Series, Ulberg’s professional MMA record is now 3-0. Though his record is low, he also has kickboxing experience. The talented striker will face another Contender Series alum in Kennedy Nzechukwu. These are two very rangy light heavyweight fighters, that will likely stand and trade blows.
Kai Kara-France vs. Rogério Bontorin (bantamweight)
With both fighters coming off a loss, a bounce back win could have the a top-15 ranking within reach. Kai Kara-France had a number beside his name not too long ago, and will be trying to show that he deserves to be back in the rankings. Rogerio Bontor in has gone 2-1 in the UFC since he was on Contender Series in 2018, and has shown he belongs.
Sean Brady vs. Jake Matthews (welterweight)
There is nothing better than a battle between two elite prospects, both with hopes at future gold. Sean Brady is quietly one of the most impressive undefeated prospects in all of MMA. Jake Matthews has actually been in the UFC since 2016 after TUF 23, but at 26 years old, he is still young like a prospect. A win here would make a strong case to face a ranked opponent the next time they step inside the octagon.
Trevin Jones vs. Mario Bautista (bantamweight)
Trevin Jones made his UFC debut on short notice, which resulted in a no contest. What the record won’t show is a monumental comeback win, that was washed away by a positive test for marijuana. Jones was hurt bad in the first round, and the end was near for sure. He found a way to survive the round, and came back in the second to win via TKO. His opponent, Mario Bautista is criminally underrated. His only loss as a professional was in his UFC debut, to current #2 ranked Cory Sandhagen. A big win, on a big stage, could put Bautista on the outside looking in at the top-15 at bantamweight. Another win after that might put a number next to his name.
The theme of Guide to the Prelims is usually focused on up and coming talent, and prospects paving their way. It is important to give notice to the fighters that are not household names. But I would be remiss to not highlight a legend that doesn’t get the shine they deserve.
Joseph Benavidez (#2) vs. Askar Askarov (#3) (flyweight)
Very few fighters can say they have beaten Benavidez. He has run the flyweight division for the majority of his tenure with the UFC, but has never been able to win a championship. Benavidez is a legend in MMA, and I would hate to see him retire as he has discussed recently. Most fans would agree that Joe B has a special place in MMA and in UFC history. However, Askarov does not care about any of this. A win over Benavidez would likely make Askarov next in line for the belt. If any fights on the main card fall through, this fight is primed to take it’s slot.
Uros Medic vs. Aalon Cruz (lightweight)
This is another battle between up and coming prospects. Both fighters are products of Contender Series, who will be trying show they belong with the world’s biggest MMA promotion. Medic earned his contract this past summer, and will be making his UFC debut. Medic has finished every opponent he has faced, while Cruz would be looking to bounce back after a loss in his UFC debut.