UFC 271: Adesanya beats Whittaker via unanimous decision to retain crown
Israel Adesanya, on Saturday night in Houston, Texas (early Sunday in Nigeria) successfully defended his middleweight title against Robert Whittaker in the main event of UFC 271, winning the bout by unanimous decision.
In what was a rematch of their first fight two-and-a-half years ago, Adesanya’s ability to control distance, counter strike and defensive wrestle were too much for his Australian-born challenger to overcome as The Last Stylebender took his UFC record to 22-1.
Adesanya took the belt from Whittaker to kick off his title reign at 185 pounds, and the Nigerian has now added the man affectionately known as Bobby Knuckles to the list of challengers who have failed to take his crown.
With the win over Whittaker, Adesanya now has one or more wins against everyone in the top five of the middleweight division outside of Jared Cannonier.
The win is also Adesanya’s eleventh consecutive victory as a middleweight in the UFC, only two behind the record set by UFC legend Anderson Silva, as the Last Stylebender continues to cement his legacy as one of the greatest to ever step foot in the Octagon.
In truth, Whittaker, whose UFC record now drops to 23–6, performed better this time around than in their first meeting, and indeed got better through the fight, but four out of those five rounds belonged to Adesanya as he landed some outrageously effective outside leg kicks, and never found himself in any real danger.
Adesanya took the early lead in the fight, peppering Whittaker with leg kicks in the opening round but also scored an early knockdown with a precise left straight.
Whittaker was able to land a takedown in Round 2, but it didn’t take long for Adesanya to work his way back to his feet.
Adesanya’s ability to control where the fight took place was the biggest story as the fight developed. Whittaker had some success when he doubled up his jab, but Adesanya met most of his attacks with a sharp counter-punching.
That advantage temporarily switched to Whittaker for a moment in Round 4 as the Aussie was able to capitalize on an Adesanya mistake to take his back and attempted a standing rear-naked choke but he couldn’t get it locked in.
In the end, it was the New Zealand-based Adesanya who had the upper hand for the majority of the fight and his latest win marks the end of a good week for The Last Stylebender. On Wednesday, his management team announced a new contract with the UFC.
Adesanya knows what he brings to the UFC and was eager to make sure that his value was appreciated by Dana White and the rest of the organization.
“The thing I want to know is what’s my value to the company,” Adesanya said. “You can’t undersell my value, if you are, you’re kidding yourself. I bring so many different looks to this company.”
More than anything, Adesanya gives the UFC a dominant champion with a fan-friendly style.
He may have come up short in his attempt to be a two-division champion against Jan Blachowicz, but there’s no disputing his place as the preeminent 185-pounder in the sport right now.