Nigeria-born Israel Adesanya has failed in his bid to become the fifth fighter in UFC history to hold two titles concurrently.
He lost by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45) early Sunday morning to Jan Blachowicz, the light heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 259.
The defeat, which is Adesanya, the UFC middleweight champion’s first in his professional MMA career, brings his record to 20-1.
However, he remains unbeaten at middleweight.
Blachowicz, with a 28-8 record, had a 107-78 edge in significant strikes, out-landing Adesanya in every round, including 28-12 in the fifth. Two judges scored the final round 10-8 for Blachowicz.
Even though Adesanya was the sharper, more aggressive striker in the early rounds, the 38-year-old Blachowicz turned the table round later in the fight in the fourth round with an impressive takedown and strong groundwork.
The Polish champion extensively used his extra weight in the closely-contested fight at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, and continued brightly in the fifth round to win the fight.
However, some keen observers of the fight slammed the final score card, asserting that it does not reflect the close contest of the fight.
Dana White, UFC President, criticized a series of 10-8 rounds awarded in the fight by the judges.
“The scoring was insane, they’re giving out 10-8’s like…
“There were two rounds in that fight that they gave as a 10-8. When I came up in the fight business, a 10-8 was an a** whooping. You got your a** whooped. You didn’t do s*** in that round if it was a 10-8. This 10-8 s*** is out of control right now. So hopefully we can get this fixed. They’re going to screw up a lot of fights if they’re handing out 10-8s like that. There was no 10-8 in that figh,” he said.
The defeat is also Adesanya’s first loss in a mixed martial arts fight since his career began in 2012. It ended the bid by him to join Amanda Nunes, Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo as the UFC’s only simultaneous two-belt champions.