Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone, as UFC 243 blew the roof off Marvel Stadium last Sat. night (Oct. 5, 2019) in Melbourne, Australia. Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds, including Al Iaquinta, who was outclassed by Dan Hooker in the co-main event of the evening (recap).
And Tai Tuivasa, who was dominated by Sergey Spivak before getting choked out by the “Polar Bear” in round two, handing him his third straight loss in the process (see it again here). But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?
Going into his headlining bout on his home turf, Whittaker hadn’t competed in close to a year and half, as injuries forced “The Reaper” to the sidelines, putting the middleweight title on ice. In the meantime, Israel Adesanya was doing work, winning five straight while the Aussie was healing his wounds. He also won the interim title, so to say “The Last Stylebender” was staying busy would be an understatement.
Once the fight began, Adesanya showed all the poise in the world, and didn’t let the big stadium, the shiny lights, or the hostile crowd throw him off his game. He even came out to a dance routine, so you know he was as calm as ever.
In the cage, he did everything right, using his distance to clip the always-aggressive Whittaker when he wanted, even dropping him with a mean shot in the closing seconds of the opening frame. All that did was give an already-fearless fighter even more confidence to get the job done, and he did just that by knocking out “The Reaper” a few minutes later to become the undisputed champion at 185 pounds.
For Whittaker, the loss is a big blow as he never truly got the chance to defend the belt since winning it over two years ago. But like the true champion he is, “The Reaper” refused to wallow in his sorrows.
“I just want to say thank you for all the love and support I have felt from everybody, it honestly makes me love what I do. Tonight just wasn’t my night, it happens but I’ll just come back stronger. I always do,” he said after the fight.
“I am disappointed, but it is not the end of the world. And I am not going anywhere. I am 28, one of the best in the world, and this is where I belong.”
Whittaker is still one of the best in the world, and he still has a long and prosperous future ahead of him. As for his bounce-back bout, I’d like to see him face off against Kelvin Gastelum, assuming the former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner defeats Darren Till at UFC 244. The two were set to fight at UFC 234 earlier this year before Whittaker was felled by injury.
If things don't pan out, then perhaps waiting to see the outcome of Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa is an option, as Whittaker can face the loser of that contest.
For complete UFC 243 results and coverage click here.