Israel Adesanya fell short in his quest to become only the fifth fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously, after Jan Blachowicz inflicted his first professional defeat to retain the light-heavyweight crown on Sunday morning.
The Pole, the underdog coming into his first title defence, triumphed in the headline bout at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, prevailing by unanimous decision. The official scores gave Blachowicz the win 49-46, 49-45, 49-45, although the contest did not feel as one-sided. Adesanya, the reigning middleweight champion, had been unbeaten in his 20 previous pro MMA bouts.
Speaking to Joe Rogan immediately after the fight, Blachowicz was asked if the victory represented the best of his career, but responded: “If I'd knocked him out it would be better. But anyway I love this win because he's one of the best in the world, now I'm one of the best in the world... I'm the first one to defeat him, so that's really good. A lot of respect for him."
Adesanya, who was seeking to join Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, Amanda Nunes and Henry Cejudo in championing two divisions at once, said: “It didn't go the way I wanted it to go, but dare to be great. The critics are the ones on the sidelines, but I'm the one putting it on the line."
Adesanya, 31, confirmed he would be moving back down to middleweight to defend his title there, although he said he would compete again at light-heavyweight in future.