It was all teed up for undefeated upstart Israel Adesanya, 29, to get over on mixed martial arts (MMA) legend and former Middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, at UFC 234 tonight (Sat., Feb. 9, 2019) inside Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. The fact that their bout was elevated to the pay-per-view (PPV) main event after Robert Whittaker was forced off the card at the last minute (details) only added to the intrigue.
“The Last Stylebender” ultimately got his stepping stone at the expense of the 43-year-old maestro, winning a unanimous decision after three rounds of entertaining action.
Adesanya came out in a flashy Matrix-like stance, starting the action off with a low kick that Silva didn’t check. He tried to land one upstairs, but Silva tossed it aside. Silva, in typical fashion, didn’t open up or press the action, going almost two minutes before he charged forward with a barrage of strikes. Adesanya countered masterfully, touching up the Brazilian with his trademark creative offensive attack and nearly crumpling his with a right cross and follow-up knee. Adesanya landed a nice shot upstairs, getting a reaction out of Silva. Adesanya missed with a nice head kick, but followed it up with a thudding low kick. Adesanya ended the round with a little showboating, grabbing his crotch and sliding into his corner for a quick break.
Silva opened up the second round with a back heel kick that didn’t land flush. Adesanya continued to switch stances constantly, looking to confuse Silva and come at him fro different, odd angles. Adesanya landed a flush one-two combination, but Silva walked right through it. Adesanya landed a nice overhand left, then a follow-up combination, which Silva countered with a hard right. Silva trapped Adesanya along the fence and landed some nice shots, bringing the supportive crowd to its collective feet. He continued to poor on the pressure, as Adesanya looked to exploit small windows to land effective counter shots. Silva really caught fire to end the round, likely evening up the scorecards heading into the third and final frame.
It was, indeed, anyone’s fight to win heading into round three. Adesanya got the action started with a hard shot to the body, which Silva pretended didn’t hurt. He caught Adesanya off guard then tried bum rush him with a flying knee the missed. Silva never left the corner, though, demanding Adesanya stand in front of him and trade shots. Adesanya walked over, the two stared at each other, before Adesanya retreated to the center of the Octagon to reset. With one minute remaining, Adesanya landed a few hard, clean shots, but all Silva did was smile and ask for more. The two traded dynamic shots down the stretch, bit nothing of significance landed for either fighter.
It was a fun fight. It’s too bad it was not a five rounder — both their gas tanks were still seemingly full. Silva, 43, turned in an impressive performance in defeat. His reactions and timing did not seem to be affected by age nor a long performance-enhancing drugs (PEDS)-related layoff. He looked good. Adesanya, however, just looked better.
For complete UFC 234: “Silva vs. Adesanya” results, including play-by-play updates, click here.