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In a star-studded night in Las Vegas, UFC 259 will lead three title fights, while four champions will compete on Saturday’s map at UFC Apex.
In the main event, light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz will be his submit first title defense against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. In the co-main event, division champion Amanda Nunes puts the featherweight belt against Megan Anderson on the line. In the third title fight on the map, Petr Yan will also make the first defense of his bantamweight crown when he takes on Aljamain Sterling.
In the featured fight, former two-time bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz returns for the first time since last May back to the Octagon to face Casey Kenney.
The former defending champion lost to then champion Henry Cejudo over the second round TKO at UFC 249. Cejudo cleared his belt and retired after this win.
Cruz ‘Losing to Cejudo came after three and a half years due to various injuries after losing the bantamweight title to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207.
Before those two losses, the 35-year-old had a winning streak of 13 fights, including both titles. He was forced to vacate the bantamweight belt in 2014 during an earlier spate of injuries.
After Cruz has fought for or defended the belt in his last four bouts, he meets Kenney, a 29-year-old unranked fighter trying to break into the upper tier of the division.
Cruz says his position as commentator and former champion gives him perspective on his opponent and that he will not take the ranked fighter lightly.
» If you’re an analyst like me, you know that everyone is in the top 15 within a year of their championship, « Cruz told TSN. « Three fights, three or four fights are all you have to do to win. He’s already in a three-fight winning streak. If he wins three more fights next year, he’s in the title fight. As someone who Got down the line and done what I did, at one point in this sport I cleaned up the division, I faced people who were 15th and within a year they were 2nd in None additional motivation for the way the world sees these fighters, because I know what each of them is. ”
Kenney’s streak of three fights led him to beat Louis Smolka, Heili Alateng and last won against Nathaniel Wood.
The Indiana native has won five of his six fights since joining, his only loss to Merab Dvalishvili last February.
Benavidez loses to Deives on Figueiredo in vacant flyweight championships. Figueiredo was not eligible to win the title after the first fight due to lack of weight.
The 36-year-old also dropped two championship fights against Demetrious Johnson, including the first title at UFC 152 in Toronto.
Prior to his last two title bout losses, Benavidez had put together a three-bout winning streak with victories over Alex Perez, Dustin Ortiz and Jussier Formiga. On the way to fight on Saturday, the # 2 veteran of 17 UFC bouts says he just focuses on his opponent and not how many times he’ll run in his career.
« I really haven’t thought about it, just watched the fight in front of me and it’s always about fighting the best and try to be the best, « Benavidez told TSN. « Since I’m the absolute best, I didn’t make it, but that’s why this fight was so fascinating that I can still fight against guys at the top like Askar Askarov. »
The 28-year-old defeated Alexandre Pantoja at his last appearance in July 2020.
He scored his first UFC win against Tim Elliott at UFC 246 after drawing a tie against Brandon Moreno in his advertising debut.
Song Yadong, who since 2016 has not suffered a defeat again, will fight against Kyler Phillips, and Rogerio Bontorin will start the preliminary round on TSN against Kai Kara-France.