While Middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, was recovering from life-threatening injuries, Israel Adesanya was putting in work, competing six times since the start of 2018 and winning the interim 185-pound title about six months ago. The dynamic duo finally squared off at UFC 243 tonight (Sat., Oct. 5, 2019) inside Marvel Arena in Melbourne, Australia, with the winner taking home the undisputed belt, as well as Trans-Tasman bragging rights.
It was a fantastic match up, which more than lived up to expectations as Whittaker — who had been on the sidelines for more than a year — came out looking for a knockout. But, it was Adesanya who remained calm, countered and finished Whittaker with a hard left hook in the second round (watch it).
Both fighters came out bouncing as Whittaker opened up as the aggressor. Jumping in with punches and putting the pressure on Adesanya early. He connected with a nice left hand as the pair each unloaded shots, but Adesanya was using his length well. Nevertheless, Whittaker found a home for his jab, landing it early and often. Adesanya began to turn it up midway through the round, landing shots and avoiding haymakers. Whittaker connected with a solid inside leg kick, but Adesanya was not home for the follow up shots upstairs. Adesanya dropped Whittaker literally at the buzzer — he was hurt bad but was able to get up and stumble back to his corner.
Whittaker came out of his corner aggressive, perhaps looking to get Adesanya out of there before he could land another shot. Adesanya was able to weather the storm, though, ducking and dodging Whittaker’s hard shots. Adesanya caught Whittaker with a right hook, bloodying his nose almost immediately. Adesanya’s counter strikes were really starting to do some damage on Whittaker, who continued to lunch in with a barrage of strikes. Midway through the second round the pair traded shots, with Whittaker landing first but then Adesanya’s return fire — a left hook off his back foot — floored the Aussie. Adesanya followed him to the canvas and landed several follow up shots, forcing the referee to pull him off.
Unreal. Adesanya essentially came out of nowhere and just did what Yoel Romero couldn’t do in 50 minutes — stop Whittaker. He proved himself to be the real deal tonight, unifying the 185-pound title and, in the process, emerging as one of UFC’s biggest and brightest young stars.
Remember that MMAmania.com is delivering LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 243 fight card this tonight right HERE, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
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