Highly touted kickboxing prospect Israel Adesanya faced off with 8th-ranked contender Brad Tavares in an important middleweight bout tonight (Friday, July 6, 2018) from inside the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, live and free on Fox Sports 1. It would be Adesanya’s night, as he put a five-round painting of beautiful violence on his record over a top-ten middleweight.
Tavares came out jabbing. Adesanya was feinting kicks, looking for an opening. Tavares punched his way into the clinch, getting an underhook. Adesanya pivoted out, Tavares throwing a straight punch as he did so. Adesanya slid away from a Tavares combination. He jabbed, then threw a low kick. Tavares countered a jab with an overhand right. Adesanya landed a body kick. He was windmilling his rear arm, landed a left straight and a body knee. Tavares landed a couple hooks as Adesanya moved in. Adesanay landed another left straight, defended a single-leg attempt. Adesanya just slipped a right straight from Tavares. He landed a jab, this time the overhand counter from Tavares connecting. Adesanya was doing the kind of feinting and styling Anderson Silva used to be known for, filling the space with posturing, then with ten seconds left rolled into a heel hook attempt that absolutely did not work out for him. He scrambled up and shrugged at Tavares.
He opened by slipping more Tavares punches in the second, feinting, landing a high kick off the arms and just missing a wheel kick. He landed a sharp left straight, another high kick that Tavares managed to block, and then defended another single-leg shot from Tavares, turning the clinch around and getting free. He jabbed, rolled away from Tavares’ right hand. Tavares landed a leg kick. Adesanya landed a low calf kick, missed a high kick, threw up a sidekick to the face instead. Tavares landed an overhand. Adesanya jabbed, feinted, landed a straight left. Adesanya was warned for having his fingers open. Adesnya hurt Tavares with a body kick; Tavares went down on a takedown attempt but got back up. Adesanya landed a jab. He was constantly switching stances, looking for openings. Tavares landed a pair of clubbing hooks as he looked for the Thai plumb at the bell.
Tavares came out jabbing to start the third, looking for a counter to Adesanya’s low leg kick. Adesanya ate a couple jabs, looking for angles. He threw an arm kick, landed a flush knee to Tavares’ head at the same time as TAavares landed a hook. Tavares waved him on, but when they clinched again Adesanya swept him to the ground. Another knee for Adesanya, then a body kick under the arms. They collided with trading body knees. Adesanya landed a low kick, a jab, another low kick. Tavares tried for a takedown, nothing doing. Adesanya slipped away from a combination, landed a low kick. Tavares shot in, got a body lock, couldn’t do anything with it as Adesanya reversed position on him. Adesanya caught a kick and landed a spinning backfist which Tavares blocked. Adesanya rocked Tavares with a jab and an off-beat right straight! He followed up with a knee, then stalked Tavares with kicks and punches, landing another flush high kick as the round wore down! Tavares chin was doing a hell of a job holding up to these flush blows.
Israel opened the next round with low kicks. Tavares was game, throwing combinations and driving in for a shot. He dug for a single-leg against the cage, managing to get Adesanya down for the first time! Adesanya tried to use his length to push away, looked for a triangle choke, had his back taken, got back up and spun for a kimura! He used it to get top position and land punishing blows before Tavares got back up. Adesanya was going to the elbows now, and Tavares halted the bout to look at a cut above Brad’s eye. It was a gorgeous short lead elbow that Adesanya had landed. Adesanya was looking for knees in the clinch and jabsto set up shots in the feet when they restarted, opening up with a combination that included a hook to the body. Adesanya was putting on a masterclass, sensing his advantage, following the jab with a right straight now. He baited the jab and tried for an overhand that missed. Adesanya landed another low calf kick. He landed two body knees and one to the head in the clinch.
Tavares was beat up and winded on the stool, nearly losing his balance as the cutman got him to sit down. His cornerman told him to put everything out of his mind for the final round. He timed a mid-body shot well, but Adesanya shucked him off effortlessly. He landed a jab and a front kick to the face of Tavares. Adesanya sprawled on a takedown attempt and went for a guillotine, spinning to the back of Tavares. He landed a couple punches from the ride and Tavares went for a heel hook; Adesanya got up and disengaged. The Last Stylebender jabbed and slipped, countering Tavares’ counter jab with a right hand. He sprawled out on another shot, moved to top position. Tavares tried to reshoot but Adesanya sprawled again and landed a knee to the dome again. He landed a left straight to the body, then two low kicks. Adesanya was totally in control, with Tavares’ leg beginning to give away. He sprawled on Tavares again, and again. He went for a very late guillotine, spinning Tavares to his back as the bell sounded. Complete dominance from the Nigerian-born New Zealander, who looked fresh as a daisy after five rounds of fighting, while Tavares looked like he had been through a car wreck and lived to tell the tale.
“All the punters, all the experts said, too soon?” said Adesanya after the fight, giving Tavares his props as a very tough dude before giving a message in Nigerian to his people. He said he is just getting warmed up- give him some time. After a win this dominant over the 8th-ranked fighter in the division, though, Adesanya has announced his arrival as a middleweight contender with just three fights to his UFC name.
Official result: Israel Adesanya def. Brad Tavares via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45x2)
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