The interim champ, Israel Adesanya collided with the middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker in the main event of UFC 243. The much-anticipated bout was expected to break the UFC’s all-time attendance record and saw the Kiwi athletes fight for undisputed middleweight gold.
The rising UFC prospect, Adesanya entered the Octagon on an undefeated 17-0 record. His official UFC debut was only a year and a half ago, but ‘The Last Stylebender’ had already fought 6 bouts. His MMA accomplishments include 13 TKO finishes, a $150,000 UFC fight-night bonus award and the 2019’s MMA award for breakthrough fighter of the year. The kickboxer’s short but rapid growth in the UFC was a result of his winning tally against stars such as Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson, Anderson Silva and Kelvin Gastelum. His flamboyant yet streamlined striking style has captured the attention of fans. Along with his magnetic aura, Adesanya has been compared to the likes of Jon Jones and Anderson Silva. However, his UFC 243 title bout against Robert Whittaker presented a new level of competition.
Robert Whittaker has fought some of the UFC’s toughest grapplers in his last 5 fights. After dealing with a leg injury in his first Yoel Remoero bout and a shattered hand in their rematch, ‘The Reaper’ battled it out to win both times: demonstrating his fighting aptitude and extreme toughness. He has earned his own MMA accolades including GQ’s sportsman of the year, four MMA fighter of the year awards and multiple fight of the night bonuses. He has the longest active win streak in the middleweight division and has out-striked all of his UFC middleweight opponents. MMA analysts including Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen believed Adesanya’s reach advantage and fighting proficiency wouldn’t stand up to ‘The Reaper’s’ killer finishing power at UFC 243.
Their assessment turned out to be wrong, as Israel Adesanya was able to eat some of Whittaker’s best punches before eventually putting ‘The Reaper’ away in round two.
Adesanya had dropped Whittaker in the final seconds of round one and ultimately went on to put Robert away in round two with a beautiful combination (watch that here).
UFC President Dana White reacted to tonight’s UFC 243 main event outcome in a video posted to social media. He said, “Tonight was incredible. Congrats to Israel Adesanya. This kid is the real deal!”
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