Israel Adesanya has successfully defended his middleweight title after defeating his fierce rival, Robert Whittaker, again, in a UFC 271 clash early Sunday morning.
Though this rematch was closely contested compared to the first fight between the duo, it was the Nigeria-born fighter who prevailed with a unanimous points decision of (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)
Sunday’s result was a far cry from their first meeting, when Adesanya secured a second-round KO of Whittaker at UFC 243 in October 2019.
“I knew he was gonna bring everything because last time I took everything away from him,” Adesanya said. “And he had nothing to lose. Like I said, I’m the champ. If you want it, come get it.”
Adesanya started brightly in the opening round when he repeatedly chopped away at Whittaker’s leg with low kicks and sat him down with a laser straight left.
While it briefly seemed as though a rout might be underway, Whittaker displayed his resolve over the course of the fight, attacking with left jabs and left hooks while effectively blending in takedowns and clinch work.
Although “The Reaper” couldn’t keep Adesanya down for any significant period of time, the different aspects of his offence were enough to make the fight interesting.
“I know I started off rocky in the first round, but I feel like I took every round after that,” Whittaker said. “I’m happy that I fought my heart out and I left it here. I thought I did enough (to win).”
In the end, Adesanya saw off the fight with his varied striking and cage control, as he continued his assault on Whittaker’s legs throughout the contest while blending other attacks when the opportunity arose.
Adesanya having taken Whittaker off his way is now targeting a June fight against Jared Cannonier, who defeated Derek Brunson in one of the earlier fights before his own headline contest