Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its presence known to Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, last night (Sat., Oct. 5, 2019) for UFC 243. It was a puzzling event: what’s the outcome going to be when an incredible main event — arguably the best of the year — is paired with lots of uninteresting bouts? There was potential for disaster and greatness both, but luckily most of the fights turned out to be a lot of fun. Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques of the night!
“Stylebender” Sniper Fire (Highlights)
Israel Adesanya claimed the Middleweight title last night with one of the finest counter striking performances in UFC history. Robert Whittaker did a lot of smart things. He landed some hard punches and set up low kicks with a lot of intelligence. However, his strategy seemed focused solely on fighting into the pocket, where Whittaker believed he’d have an advantage.
Adesanya proved otherwise.
Whittaker did not get rocked while leaping forward — he didn’t run into a jab and get put on his back. Instead, Adesanya willingly stayed in the pocket after Whittaker jumped forward, taking advantage of the fact that Whittaker often threw himself off-balance in pursuit of the pocket, expecting Adesanya to pull backward.
Instead, Adesanya planted his feet and fired. He essentially knocked out Whittaker twice in almost identical fashion. “The Last Stylebender” became an undefeated champion last night and dethroned one of the absolute best in the world — Adesanya has more than proven himself the real deal.
Hooker Highlights (Recap)
Dan Hooker pieced Al Iaquinta up relative ease last night.
As it so often goes in the modern UFC, it all began with the calf kick. It didn’t take more than a handful of calf kicks for Hooker to severely limit Iaquinta’s movement — a big problem for “Raging Al” considering how quickly Hooker landed three hard kick in the opening minute. For the rest of the fight, Iaquinta was forced to resort to boxing from Southpaw (not his strong suit) or simply lunging forward with big looping shots.
The combination of an accurate lead hand and hard calf kick is a brutal one for rangy strikers. Iaquinta could not close the distance easily, as the jab (and an excellent check hook) ripped into his face. He couldn’t hang back either, as that’s where Iaquinta’s lead leg was getting demolished.
Hooker trapped Iaquinta in no-man’s land and punished him for the full 15 minutes. It was a stellar performance.
Two men walked into the cage last night weighing at least 265 pounds ... and they fought like it.
Yorgan de Castro and Justin Tafa wasted little time in throwing down. Early on, it became clear that de Castro was the sharper man at distance, as his right hand and right body kick connected cleanly in the early exchanges. Tafa adjusted smartly by jamming his way into the clinch, where he scored with a hard uppercut a few times.
One such uppercut landed clean, and Tafa thought — perhaps correctly? — that it hurt his opponent a bit. He shuffled forward behind a loaded power shot, only to get absolutely blasted mid-punch by his opponent’s right hand. Tafa hit the mat face-first, and de Castro walked off without any follow up shots.
Kiwi Vs. Aussie Barn-Burner
Brad Riddell and Jamie Mullarkey went to war last night.
The two showed some good techniques. Riddell has a kickboxing background ... and it showed: he threw to the body frequently, loaded up his power punches well, and struck in combinations that ended with low kicks. Mullarkey, meanwhile, wanted the fight on the mat, but he still managed to cut his foe open with a sharp jab.
Technique wasn’t the appeal of this bout though. The two slugged it out in the first two rounds, but the third round was when absolute madness broke loose. Riddell was dropping repeated bombs on the jaw of Mullarkey, and early on, he seemed to be nearing a finish. Instead of hanging back and trying to recover, Mullarkey bit down and threw heavy punches, resulting in a knockdown and near submission.
Unfortunately, that was Mullarkey’s final good moment. Riddell escaped back to his feet and returning to dishing out punishment. Mullarkey was brutalized, but his toughness was incredible.
- Sergey Spivac defeats Tai Tuivasa via second-round arm triangle choke (HIGHLIGHTS): Spivac hunted for the headlock/neck crank submission way too much, but otherwise he fought a very smart fight. It certainly helped that Tuivasa fought a dumb one, as the Aussie continually threw himself into the same pair of takedowns — the headlock throw and caught-low-kick double — repeatedly, but Spivac stuck to his game plan well. Early on, Spivac had a difficult time holding his larger foe down, but Tuivasa could only power out of bad positions so many times. Once he was tired, Spivac unleashed some heavy punches and quickly locked up a choke.
- Megan Anderson defeats Zarah Fairn dos Santos via first-round triangle choke (HIGHLIGHTS): A match up between two kickboxers classically produced a quick submission win. It was Anderson who wrestled first, securing a body lock takedown and advancing into mount. Fairn dos Santos managed to buck her way out of mount... directly into a tight triangle choke. The triangle choke is definitely a technique that grows profoundly more dangerous when applied by a lanky fighter, and Anderson is six feet tall! In a way, this is sort of Anderson’s first UFC victory, and it was one badly needed.
- Ji Yeon Kim defeats Nadia Kassem via second-round technical knockout: This was an ugly fight, and Kassem is nowhere near polished enough for UFC-level competition. Kim took it to her opponent, landing quality punches while Kassem largely flailed around. Those punches — particularly the ones to the mid-section — built up quickly, resulting in Kassem breaking down in the second.
- Khalid Taha defeats Bruno Silva via third-round arm triangle choke (HIGHLIGHTS): The opening bout of the night proved to be an entertaining, back-and-forth clash. In the first round, Taha’s aggression and size advantage proved difficult to deal with and produced a knockdown, but Silva was able to catch a kick and land a takedown in the second. The final five minutes seemed set to determine the victor, but Taha took it out of the judges’ hands by reversing a takedown attempt and landing in top position. From there, Taha secured an arm triangle choke and forced the jiu-jitsu black belt to submit.
For complete UFC 243: “Whittaker Vs. Adesanya” results and play-by-play, click HERE!