Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight strikers Brad Tavares and Israel Adesanya dueled last night (July 6, 2018) at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 27 Finale from inside Pearl Theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Tavares has been there and done that. The Hawaiian has competed inside the Octagon for nearly a decade, winning far more often than not in the process and assuring a position in the rankings. He may not have had his opponent’s credentials or hype, but Tavares looked to prove he was the better fighter last night.
Meanwhile, Adesanya had previously picked up a couple decent wins, but most of his momentum was based on kickboxing accolades and potential. Tavares represented a big, well-rounded step up in competition, but he was also a major opportunity for “Stylebender” to capitalize upon.
Early on in the bout, Adesanya made his intentions clear by digging to the inside and outside of Tavares’ leg, attacking both the calf and thigh. Tavares responded by upping the aggression and trying to jam “Stylebender” into the fence, but it didn’t take long for the kickboxer to circle off and return to the center.
At range, Adesanya went back to work with kicks, but Tavares found good success with his hands. Pressuring with both punches and the threat of the takedown, Tavares was able to land some decent blows even if he was unable to score top position.
It was a competitive five minutes.
Adesanya began to relax and flow in the second round, resulting in far more kicks to the legs and body. In addition, he began looking for brief double-collar ties and clinch knees. Before long, it seemed like Adesanya really had the range of his foe figured out. Tavares attempted to change that with another takedown attempt, but Adesanya denied his efforts pretty easily.
Adesanya ended the round by slamming home a hard body kick that hurt the Hawaiian, foot-sweeping him to the mat when Tavares sought refuge in the clinch.
Things did not improve for Tavares in the third. Adesanya continued to punish the inside of the leg, whacking Tavares far out of stance and leaving him slower. Every once in a while, Tavares would be able to find a home for his right hand — often by punching his way out of the clinch — but otherwise he looked pretty helpless opposite the decorated kickboxer. Meanwhile, Adesanya continued to land brutal knees in the clinch, and frankly it’s impressive that Tavares’ chin held up to them.
Heading into the championship rounds, Tavares needed something big.
Unfortunately, Adesanya was in complete control and barely breaking a sweat. After taking a front kick to the dome, Tavares actually did manage to land a single leg takedown. Adesanya attempted both a triangle and kimura, using the submissions to escape back to his feet. Once there, Adesanya returned to his role of sniper, picking Tavares apart with long straight shots and those brutal inside low kicks.
The fifth continued in similar fashion. Tavares absolutely needed a major rally, but his lead leg was fairly destroyed by this point, and all those heavy body kicks did not help matters either. The Hawaiian gamely tried to push forward, but there was little behind his shots, and Adesanya largely danced around his offense and picked his shots. Outside of the occasional knee to the face, Adesanya did not look for the finish all that hard.
He didn’t need to.
This was a hugely impressive victory for “Stylebender.” Frankly, a lot of people lost faith in Adesanya after his iffy performance last time out. Then, just a few months later, he utterly dominated a much tougher opponent, showing a great deal of improvement in the process. It was surely enough to convert many non-believers.
The most notable improvement was Adesanya’s conditioning. Last time out, he slowed significantly as the fight wore on, and it made him less effective. This time, he was better able to find his range and maintain it, allowing him to choose when to exchange. That made all the difference, allowing Adesanya to easily pick Tavares apart in the fifth.
Adesanya is ready for a top 10 opponent.
As for the Hawaiian, he fought gamely. Large portions of the fight saw him stranded at Adesanya’s range, but he kept pushing the pace in an attempt to make something happen. It never did, and perhaps that’s because he tried to remain technical for too long. By the time he was willing to let caution fly, Tavares’ body was already broken down, meaning he wasn’t much of a threat.
Last night, Israel Adesanya dominated his opponent in a five-round decision win. Who should Adesanya face next?
For complete TUF 27 Finale: “Tavares vs. Adesanya” results and play-by-play, click HERE!