The big fights just keep coming ...
Hot off Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington 2 and Rose Namajunas vs. Zhang Weili 2, we move on to UFC 269 on Dec. 11, 2021, featuring Dustin Poirier’s next attempt to earn a Lightweight title against current champion Charles Oliveira. UFC 270 on Jan. 22, 2022, is being headlined by the Heavyweight title unification bout between Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane.
And now UFC 271 on Feb. 12, 2021, is looking like it will have Middleweight kingpin Israel Adesanya taking on Robert Whittaker for the second time.
Multiple sources confirmed with MMA Fighting that UFC was looking to land Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2 on the card, although bout agreements have not been signed by either man. Neither is currently feuding with UFC in public about pay, though, so chances are good there’ll be nothing getting in the way of seeing this New Zealand vs. Australia showdown early in 2022.
Adesanya is coming off his third Middleweight title defense, a decision win over Marvin Vettori at UFC 263 in June. Before that, “The Last Stylebender” was rebuffed in his attempt to join the ranks of “champ champs” when he failed to win a Light Heavyweight title fight against Jan Blachowicz.
As for Whittaker, the Australian has racked up three decision wins over tough competition in Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum to earn his second crack at Adesanya. The two originally fought in Oct. 2019 at UFC 243, where interim champ Adesanya took the full Middleweight strap off Whittaker via knockout in the second round.
Since then, there’s been a certain amount of gamesmanship being played between Adesanya and Whittaker’s camps, with Adesanya coach Eugene Bareman repeatedly downplaying Whittaker’s value as a legit contender and implying they weren’t in a rush to give him a rematch. But, with Whittaker not only the No. 1-ranked contender at 185 pounds and the most marketable of the top contenders, this second fight was inevitable.
Also on the UFC 271 card thus far: Renato Moicano vs. Alexander Hernandez, Roxanne Modafferi’s retirement fight vs. Casey O’Neill, and Kyler Phillips vs. Marcelo Rojo. We’ll keep you up to speed on any further developments and additions to the card as they come.