Betting Guide for UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya

Three title fights are on tap for UFC 259.

That includes, of course, the headlining bout between Jan Błachowicz and Israel Adesanya, the current middleweight champion who is moving up to challenge Błachowicz for the light heavyweight title.

There's also a women's featherweight title fight between the heavily, heavily (heavily) favored Amanda Nunes (-1200 on FanDuel Sportsbook) against Megan Anderson (+680) and a bantamweight title fight between champion Petr Yan (-110) and Aljamain Sterling (-110) in a toss-up, per the odds.

The fireworks are in store on the main card, but there's value in the prelims, as well. Let's dig in.

Jan Błachowicz (+184) vs. Israel Adesanya (-230)

The headliner between Jan Błachowicz and Israel "The Last Stylebender" Adesanya definitely leans toward the current middleweight champion, Adesanya, based on the betting odds.

Adesanya brings with him a flawless 20-0-0 record, including a 9-0 record in the UFC. Błachowicz is on a four-fight win streak and is 8-1 in his past eight fights.

Adesanya, despite sitting as reigning champ in the 185-pound division, has a two-inch height and reach advantage in this fight. Adesanya sits at 3rd in the UFC's pound-for-pound rankings; Błachowicz is 14th.

The significant strikes per minute data, via UFCStats.com, favors Adesanya (4.10 to 3.49 significant strikes landed per minute and a 65% strike defense compared to Błachowicz's 54%), but the grappling data is better for Błachowicz (1.10 takedowns per 15 minutes compared to 0.00 for Adesanya).

Adesanya has fired only three takedown attempts in his nine UFC fights (and none since his third fight). Adesanya, a former pro kickboxer, has shown an 86% takedown defense, however, so he could keep this one standing and hold the advantage.

Adesanya is also getting a ton of love from the betting public: 68% of the bets but 89% of the money is on him to win, via oddsFire. That 21-point differential is second largest on the card.

Too much lines up in Adesanya's favor overall to deviate from the favorite here, so I'll be backing Adesanya.

Błachowicz has been knocked out in only 2 of his 35 pro matches (5.7%) and in 2 of his 8 losses (25.0%), which does put a dent in any knockout props that we'd normally want with Adesanya (15 of his 20 fights were knockout wins and 3 of his past 5 wins went to decision). But you can bet him to win by KO/TKO at +135 if you can't get behind the simple -230 number for an outright victory.

Thiago Santos (+136) vs. Aleksandar Rakić (-168)

The first fight of the main card is a light heavyweight bout between Thiago Santos and Aleksandar Rakić for positioning at the top of the light heavyweight rankings. Santos is the number-two contender, and Rakić is fourth.

The favored Rakić most recently won over Anthony Smith, sixth in the division, back in August via a unanimous decision. That win got Rakić to get to a 13-2-0 professional record and acted as a bounce back from a loss to Volkan Oezdemir, eighth in the division, from December 2019 in Busan, a loss that snapped Rakić's 12-fight win streak.

Santos has dropped two straight fights: a split decision loss to Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title in July of 2019 and then a third-round rear-naked choke submission loss to Glover Teixeira, the number-one contender at light heavyweight, in November of 2020.

The 37-year-old is now 4-3-0 over the past five years and is 3-2-0 since moving up to light heavyweight. He had three KO/TKO wins before running into Jones for the title and then losing to Teixeira.

Rakić is 4-1-0 over the past five years. However, the competition gap between the two is fairly substantial. Santos' recent schedule features bouts against Teixeira, Jones, and Błachowicz, and although Rakić has had two tough fights recently, he has been favored in all six of his UFC fights. He is favored again, but Santos will be a tough out.

Given everything, I like the plus-money on Santos outright.

In Santos' 29 career fights, 18 ended by knockout (62.1%) either way, and 76.2% of his wins have ended by finish. Rakić has had 9 of 15 end by knockout (60.0%) with 10 of 13 of his wins ending with a finish (76.9%).

It's no surprise, then, that this fight to end by KO/TKO is -180, and it's -235 to end early. So I'd be okay taking Santos by KO/TKO at +210 -- though Rakić by KO/TKO is +195 if you'd rather back him and don't want to take him at -168 outright.

Mario Bautista (-250) vs. Trevin Jones (+198)

The bantamweight title fight won't be the only fight in that weight class on this card (there are actually three others). The 8-1-0 Mario Bautista will face the 12-6-0 Trevin Jones to kick off the card.

Bautista has carved out a 2-1 UFC record including two straight wins but has not fought since February of 2020 when he scored a second-round TKO over Miles Johns, earning Bautista Performance of the Night honors.

Trevin Jones' lone UFC fight -- fought at a catch weight of 140 pounds, which required him to lose 16 pounds in 36 hours -- initially ended with a Jones win via second-round knockout, but the result was overturned after Jones tested positive for marijuana.

We're still dealing with small samples, but Bautista has an advantage in significant strikes per minute (6.19 to 3.72) and has exhibited a 57% takedown defense. Jones managed two takedown attempts (2.15 per 15 minutes) in his debut. Combining each fighter's strikes per minute and their opponent's defense, Bautista figures to land the second-highest number of significant strikes per minute on the card.

Bautista's odds opened at -226 but are now up to -250 on FanDuel Sportsbook. That's because of the betting data being heavily in his favor with 93% of the money and 67% of the bets on him. That's a pretty drastic imbalance, the largest on the card, indicating heavier bettors are backing the more proven Bautista, and the data looks to favor him as well.

Smart Money Opportunities

Tracking smart money can be pretty complicated, but an easy way to gauge that is to compare money bet on a fighter compared to betting tickets on that fighter. These are the largest discrepancies in the data, via oddsFire.

FightSmart Money OnBets %Money %Smart %
Mario Bautista vs Trevin JonesBautista6793+26
Jan Blachowicz vs Israel AdesanyaAdesanya6889+21
Tim Elliott vs Jordan EspinosaElliott5674+18
Dominick Cruz vs Casey KenneyCruz5370+17
Islam Makhachev vs Drew DoberMakhachev8294+12