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UFC 243 – Israel Adesanya stops Robert Whittaker to unify middleweight belt

Follows in footsteps of idol Anderson Silva

Israel Adesanya (18-0-0) used some exquisite striking to overcome Robert Whittaker (20-5-0) in the third round of UFC 243 Saturday night in Melbourne, Australia.

Whittaker hadn’t fought since June 2018, but landed several jabs and strikes that earned Adesanya’s respect, but it also helped “Stylebender” quickly figure out his range which used by the end of the round to land counter right hand to drop “The Reaper” just before the horn.

In the second round, Adesanya methodically moved in for the kill. Avoiding most of Whittaker’s stiff shots, Adesanya ate a solid straight right hand but quickly returned a right followed by an immediate left to the jaw that sent Whittaker crashing to the canvas. Referee Marc Goddard stopped the bout at 3:33.

In the post-fight interview, Adesanya called out undefeated No. 2 Brazilian contender Paulo Costa (12-0-0), who was cageside.

Whittaker congratulated Adesanya afterwards, acknowledging his defeat but added in the post-fight press conference that he thought he was doing well, but “just got caught,” and that he “wasn’t going anywhere.” He was thankful that he wasn’t injured and will get back to training as soon as he can.

 

Adesanya and Yorgan De Castro earned performances of the night, while Brad Riddell and Jamie Mullarkey earned Fight of the Night. Each fighter earned a $50,000 USD bonus.

Kenai Andrews checks in with his thoughts on the card.

UFC FIGHT PASS PRELIMS 

KHALID TAHA VS. BRUNO SILVA 

WINNER: KHALID TAHA VIA SUBISSION (ARM-TRIANGLE CHOKE) R3 3:00

ANDREWS PREDICTION: KHALID TAHA VIA UD

Andrews: Taha missed weight, but got the job done. Now, don’t miss weight.

NADIA KASSEM VS. JI YEON KIM 

WINNER: JE YEON KIM VIA TKO (STRIKES) R2 4:59

ANDREWS PREDICTION: NADIA KASSEM VIA TKO

Andrews: Kim looked embarrassed at the weigh-in not making weight and then smokes Kassem? Did Nadia underestimate her? I think she did.

BRAD RIDDELL VS. JAMIE MULLARKEY 

WINNER: BRAD RIDDELL VIA UD (29-27, 30-26, 30-26)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: BRAD RIDDELL VIA UD 

Andrews: That was some first round. Excellent win for Brad.

MEGAN ANDERSON VS. ZARAH FAIRN DOS SANTOS 

WINNER: MEGAN ANDERSON VIA SUBISSION (TRIANGLE CHOKE) R1 3:57

ANDREWS PREDICTION: MEGAN ANDERSON VIA UD

Andrews: Anderson needed this win. She used her experience and that was good.

MAKI PITOLO VS. CALIAN POTTER 

WINNER: CALIAN POTTER VIA UD (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: CALIAN POTTER VIA SUBMISSION

Andrews: Potter outworked Potlio in the last two rounds. Good win.

JAKE MATTHEWS VS. ROSTEM AKMAN 

WINNER: JAKE MATTHEWS VIA UD (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: JAKE MATTHEWS VIA UD

Andrews: The experience of Matthews came through.

YORGAN DE CASTRO VS. JUSTIN TAFA

WINNER: YORGAN DE CASTRO VIA KO (PUNCH) R1 2:10

ANDREWS PREDICTION: JUSTIN TAFA VIA TKO

Andrews: Wow! Don’t blink was correct. Tafa walked right into it.

LUKE JUMEAU VS. DHIEGO LIMA 

WINNER: DHIEGO LIMA VIA SD (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: LUKE JUMEAU VIA UD

Andrews: Tough loss for Jumeau.

#14 TAI TUIVASA VS. SERGHEI SPIVAK 

WINNER: SERGHEI SPIVAK VIA TECH SUBMISSION (ARM-TRIANGLE) R2 3:14

ANDREWS PREDICTION: TAI TUIVASA VIA TKO

Andrews: Tuivasa needs to respect his opponent’s strengths more. He cannot coast on his knockout power. Will he learn? He’s on the bubble.

#6 AL IAQUINTA VS. #15 DAN HOOKER 

WINNER: DAN HOOKER VIA UD (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: DAN HOOKER VIA TKO

Andrews: Hooker’s technique was too much for Al.

MAIN EVENT 

ROBERT WHITTAKER VS. #1 ISRAEL ADESANYA 

WINNER: ISRAEL ADESANYA VIA TKO (STRIKES)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: ROBERT WHITTAKER VIA UD

Andrews: Adesanya answered a lot of questions tonight. He definitely has power and broke Whittaker down like Anderson Silva broke down so many in his prime. This is his moment. Well done. The Reaper will be back.

@kenaiandrews

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Kenai is a former Postmedia Network online news and sports editor. He is the Editor-in-Chief for MMA Crossfire.
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