At UFC 271 on Saturday night, Israel Adesanya retained his championship and maintained control of the middleweight division by defeating Robert Whittaker by unanimous decision.
Adesanya (23-1) remains undefeated in the UFC after winning his 11th straight middleweight fight. Adesanya won all four of his championship defenses — three by unanimous decision and one by knockout — with judges scoring it 48-47, 48-47, 49-46 in his favor.
The bout, which was a rematch of Adesanya’s second-round knockout victory over Whittaker (23-6) at UFC 243 in 2019, was close throughout, with Whittaker taking the champion down many times. Adesanya rated his performance as “seven out of ten.”
Following the bout, Adesanya said he told Whittaker that he respected him.
“We’re just two guys trying to be the best in the world, but tonight, I’m the best in the world,” Adesanya said.
Whittaker came back in the second round to knock Adesanya down against the cage midway through the round and land a couple punches to the face after Adesanya had dominated the first. Adesanya, on the other hand, was able to free himself from Whittaker’s grip and land a few blows. Whittaker brought down Adesanya 1 1/2 minutes into the fourth round and tried to lock in a choke, but Adesanya was able to break free.
Whittaker attempted to take Adesanya down twice in the last round, but the champion fought back both times. Adesanya was able to break free from Whittaker’s grip many times against the cage, landing punches to Whittaker’s face each time.
“This one was better than the first one.” I thought I did enough. I thought I did enough. Breaking it down, I thought I lost the first round. I put myself together. I think I beat him to every punch. I had takedowns. I thought I did enough. It is what it is. That’s how work goes in the office.”
Jared Cannonier (15-5) might be the next UFC middleweight title contender after knocking out Derek Brunson (23-8) in the second round of their bout earlier in the night. After being knocked down three times in the first round, Cannonier, the third-ranked middleweight, rallied back in the second, elbowing and dazing Brunson before dragging him to the mat and knocking him out with blows to the head, prompting the referee to stop the fight.
Cannonier declared in the Octagon after the fight that he wanted a rematch with the middleweight title and demanded that UFC president Dana White, who was cage side, give him the chance.
In the post-fight news conference, White claimed he wouldn’t say no to Cannonier, but he was vague on a timetable for a title fight between Cannonier and Adesanya, despite the champion suggesting in the post-fight press conference that the two should fight in June.
“I wasn’t really looking past Robert. I took him seriously and right all the way to the last bell I knew he was dangerous. … I had fun in there. I just want to watch it and back and study that fight. I look forward to fresh meat” Adesanya said.
Tai Tuivasa (14-3) knocked out Houston native and third-ranked heavyweight Derrick Lewis (26-7) in the second round of the co-main event. Tuivasa, who has won five straight fights by knockout, battled back from being sent to the canvas twice in the first round.
“I got a few bumps on the head, that’s for sure,” Tuivasa said. “It was nothing. I didn’t feel I was in too much danger. He’s the knockout king. He’s got big hands. … I definitely felt him, but I was still in the game.”
In the second round, Tuivasa landed blows on Lewis and backed him up to the cage before throwing a right elbow to the left side of Lewis’ face, knocking him out and sending him face-first to the canvas. Lewis has dropped two of his past three fights, both of which were in Houston.
Source: New York Post | AP