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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

UFC 243: Israel Adesanya Makes his Mark


In one of the most compelling title matchups in recent memory, the UFC 243 main event featured the unification of the middleweight championship belts. The interim champion, Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya, defeated the defending middleweight champion, Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker, by KO/TKO at the 3:33 mark in the second round. 

Israel Adesanya entered this middleweight bout holding a professional record of 17-0 and a record of 6-0 in the UFC. With an undefeated record and an unrivaled personality, Adesanya has built a name for himself in the two years since he signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He has also built a massive following because of his antics. In his most recent fight, “The Last Stylebender” defeated Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236 to claim the interim middleweight belt while Robert Whittaker was out with an injury. This is in discussion to be awarded the fight of the year and is another reason why many analysts pegged Adesanya as the favorite over Whittaker at UFC 243. 

Whittaker’s reign over the last couple of years as the middleweight champion has been a rocky one due to a number of factors, including injuries that have kept him out of the octagon since June of 2018. It had been a year and a half since successfully defending his title against Yoel Romero, so many experts wondered if ring rust would be an issue for Whittaker. 

From the moment walk-outs started, the atmosphere was electric in the sold-out Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. Fans eagerly waited as the two fighters approached the octagon, hoping to see a battle that would live up to the hype, and it did not disappoint.

Although Whittaker did not look bad, Adesanya simply looked much better. With almost no hesitation, both fighters went at it from the start of the fight. Whittaker threw bombs, connecting with some, but with very few having effect. Adesanya proved to be too fast and too well prepared. He seemed to duck out of the way of almost every strike, dipping and weaving while countering along the way. The first round was mostly a defensive one for Adesanya. He planned carefully and strategized, mixing in a select choice of kicks and punches that staggered Whittaker. In the final moments of the round, Adesanya connected with a right hook and dropped him. As he pounced on a stunned Whittaker, the horn sounded and judge Marc Goddard stepped in to separate the fighters. 

In round two, Adesanya went on the offensive. He looked deadly from the beginning and showcased the world class kickboxing he is known for. Whittaker again managed to tag Adesanya several times, but nothing seemed to affect the interim champion significantly. With a minute and thirty seconds remaining in the second round, Adesanya hit Whittaker with a left hook, followed by a right, that dropped him to the mats. The two punches almost left Whittaker out cold on his feet, and Adesanya added several more while he was on the ground to put the finishing touches on a superb knockout.  

In the end, Israel Adesanya proved to be too much to handle for “The Reaper” Whittaker. With Adesanya’s meteoric rise over the last two years, it is no surprise to see him crowned as the undisputed UFC middle weight champion. He now sits at a remarkable 18-0 professionally and will ride out the rest of 2019 as a champion. His next fight will likely come in the first half of 2020 against the #2 middleweight contender in the world, Paulo Costa.

As for Whittaker, he now owns a professional record of 21-5. Also, he is twenty-eight years old and entering his fighting prime, so there should be plenty left in the tank. He will look to bounce back in 2020 to remain in the discussion of top five middleweight contenders, and there will likely be a rematch with Adesanya on the cards in the future.

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