It took way longer than it should have (more than 2.5 years), but the highly-anticipated rematch between Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, and former 185-pound kingpin, Robert Whittaker, finally goes down tonight (Sat., Feb. 12, 2022) from inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Adesanya dethroned Whittaker at UFC 243 in back in 2019 in front of the largest live audience in the history of the promotion (57,127). He has defended his title three times since, taking out Marvin Vettori, Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero. “Last Stylebender” took a shot at the 205-pound strap as well, but then-champion, Jan Blachowicz, was just too much, winning a a clear-cut unanimous decision. Whittaker, meanwhile, scored sensational victories over Jared Cannonier, Derek Brunson and Yoel Romero (twice). In fact, “Reaper” has won 12 of his last 13 bouts dating all the way back to 2014.
In other words, Adesanya and Whittaker are hands-down the two best Middleweight fighters in mixed martial arts (MMA) and tonight’s bout, which is scheduled for five, five-minute rounds, is going to be epic.
Live updates will began to flow below the moment the two fighters made their way to the Octagon ...
Whittaker, the talented and decorated former champion, was the first to make his walk to the cage:
Then, it was time for “Last Stylebender” to bless us with his one-of-a-kind drip:
Izzy with a lazy low kick to get things started right away, with Whittaker keeping his distance early. Side kick from Whittaker, who is circling left, looking to exploit an opening. Low kick from Whittaker, with Izzy countering with a stiff jab upstairs. Front kicks from Izzy just barely graze Whittaker, who keeps using a side kick to the knee. More low kicks from Izzy, as Whittaker lunges in with a combination that missed its mark. Another calf kick from Izzy, who missed with a high kick along the fence. Solid jab from Izzy put Whittaker on his butt for a minute, with Whittaker going for (and whiffing) on a sloppy takedown moments later. Another low kick from Izzy, with Whittaker exploding with a big left hook that glanced off his forehead. Whittaker checked a low kick, then blocked a high kick as the round came to a close. Good round for the champ.
Whittaker appeared to be a but deflated between rounds, mentioning something about the leg kicks. He came out for the second stanza a little more aggressive, but Izzy is just too hard to hit. Nice jab from Whittaker pushed Izzy backward, missing with a big right hook moments later. Another left hand scores for Whittaker. missing with a high kick moments later. Midway through the round and Whittaker scored a huge takedown, but Izzy got back to his feet way too quick. He struggled along the fence to get him back to the canvas, but Izzy’s defense was on point. Inside leg kick from Izzy on the restart, with Whittaker still looking to land that left hand upstairs. Much better round for Whittaker, although his lead leg looks like ground beef.
Whittaker came out with that lunging left hand again, by far his most effect strike of the fight. Izzy just standing in the center of the Octagon, waiting for him to wade into range. Whittaker timed a low kick with a nice left hand to the mouth, pushing Izzy off balance. Big jab from Whittaker, with Izzy countering with one of his own. Midway through the round, Whittaker dove in for a takedown, but Izzy sprawled and drilled him with a knee to the face on the break. Two minutes to go in the round and Whittaker finally secured a takedown, but Izzy got back to his feet with a quickness and made his way to the fence. Whittaker looked for a standing kimura, but Izzy spun out and went back to work. Heavy calf kick from Izzy and Whittaker did not like it ... at all. Jab from Whittaker knocked Izzy back a bit, but that was it as the round came to a close.
Whittaker’s corner was calling for a blast double takedown between rounds. Instead, he settled for that lunging left hook coming out of the gate. Big calf kick from Izzy, then a knee, with Whittaker countering with another left. Izzy missed with a left hook, with Whittaker ducking under and quickly jumping on his back. He piggy-backed him for a hot minute, with Whittaker trying to sink in a rear-naked choke, but he aborted it quickly. Izzy on the hunt, looking to trap Whittaker in a corner, switching stances and scoring with inside leg kicks along the way. Fake takedown attempt from Whittaker, which he followed with a nice jab. Uppercut from Whittaker landed clean, with another left hand jab-hook moments later. Nice right cross from Whittaker at the bell ... perhaps his best round so far.
Whittaker’s corner thinks he’s down big on the scorecards, imploring him to use his right hand, takedowns ... and to put him down. Low kick from Izzy, with Whittaker drilling him with a left hand counter. Kick from Izzy along the cage, with Whittaker stunning him with, you guessed it, another solid left upstairs. Inside leg kick from Izzy, with Whittaker grabbing it and looking to turn it into a single-leg takedown. Action stopped briefly for an inadvertent eye poke from Izzy, with Whittaker scoring another takedown on the restart. Izzy got back to his feet, fighting the hands around his waist, facing the fans. Off the break Whittaker drilled him with a left hand, which Izzy acknowledged as a solid strike. Fake takedown attempt from Whittaker, but he couldn’t land the combination set up. Whittaker tied him up along the cage, delivering knees to his thighs, then looking to score another takedown that didn’t materialize. Great fight ... close, too.
Final result: Adesanya def. Whittaker via decision (48-47x2, 49-46) - WATCH HIGHLIGHTS!
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