We have an incredible main event this weekend at UFC 243, as UFC interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya looks to unify his belt with undisputed UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in Melbourne, Australia. This is one of the highest level middleweight matchups of all time, how does this one go down?
Firstly, everyone knows how extensive of a resume “The Last Stylebender” has in kickboxing, and it certainly shows in his fights. He went 32-0 as an amateur, and 75-5-1 as a professional, winning numerous tournaments and championships. He would win his first eleven mixed martial arts fights, all via knockout, before joining the UFC. Since coming to the UFC, he’s gone 6-0 inside of just 14 months, which is insane. He’s taken a six-month break since his last fight, which is about the same amount of time that half of those fights happened.
On the other hand, “The Reaper” hasn’t been as active, as he’s fought just once in a little over two years. It’s pretty crazy to think that Whittaker’s only gone 2-0 since July 2017, while Adesanya’s gone 8-0 since the same month of the same year. What does that say about this fight though?
For one, fighters generally are able to add more tools to their skill set when they have periods of time off. However, Adesanya’s last two fights were only two months apart, and he showed a nasty guillotine and triangle choke in the Gastelum fight, both of which were very tight. Adesanya has proven that he can accumulate a more diverse arsenal while in training camp, but can Whittaker do that while rehabbing?
“The Reaper” has always been an impressive talent, as he went 2-0 on “The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes,” before winning the season. He lost twice at welterweight inside the UFC, going 3-2 at 170 pounds, and has gone 8-0 since moving up to middleweight. Something to look back on, Whittaker’s still only 28-years-old, he certainly should still be in the development stage of his career. Though he’s been around a bit longer than Adesanya in the MMA world, he’s two years younger.
Robert Whittaker (20-4) vs. Israel Adesanya (17-0)
With how good of a fight Adesanya had with Gastelum, will this one be similar? Whittaker’s just as good of a striker as Gastelum, and he’s three inches taller. Remember, Gastelum threw, landed, and hurt Adesanya with a head kick, and he’s seven inches shorter than Adesanya. That’s pretty remarkable, especially for someone with a wrestling background, and Whittaker has amazing head kicks himself, as evident in his fights with Brad Tavares, Jacare Souza, Yoel Romero, etc.
The other main factor that this fight could come down to, aside from their frames, is Whittaker’s wrestling. We don’t see too much of it, but when we do, it usually works out for him. Kind of like Jorge Masvidal, who doesn’t take his opponents down often, but when he does, he mixes it up beautifully.
The champion competed for a chance to compete in the Common Wealth Games, which is a pretty massive deal. He got a gold medal in the Australia National Wrestling Championships and was chosen to represent Australia in the Common Wealth Games in Freestyle Wrestling in 2017, but elected not to considering the UFC gave him the ultimatum that if he did, he’d be stripped of his belt. Will that play a factor?
With as good as both of these two are, this is certainly a pick ’em fight, who knows how this one’s going to go? These are absolutely the top two middleweights in the world, and we get to watch them battle for the undisputed UFC middleweight championship this weekend in a New Zealand versus Australia night of fights.
Who are you taking to walk away from UFC 243 as the undisputed UFC middleweight champion? “The Reaper” or “The Last Stylebender”?