MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC 243, a five-round middleweight title bout between UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and interim champion Israel Adesanya. The event takes place Saturday, October 5 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
Israel Adesanya (-115)
Adesanya (17-0) is the UFC interim middleweight champion. The Nigerian-born New Zealander is a perfect 6-0 in the UFC with wins over Kelvin Gastelum, Anderson Silva, Derek Brunson and Brad Tavares. Adesanya has only been in the UFC for less than two years but has already become one of the top fighters on the roster, as well as one of the biggest stars in the sport. He comes from a kickboxing background and not surprisingly that’s been his biggest strength so far during his UFC run. But he has shown a well-rounded skillset in recent fights, with excellent takedown defense and an improved ground game. He has also shown a great chin and tremendous cardio. In his last fight against Gastelum he proved that he can go a hard 25 minutes, fight through adversity, and get his hand raised after a knock ’em down, drag ’em out fight. Not only that, but he showed he can stuff a takedown. And we already know how talented he is in the striking department. Adesanya could very well be the next big thing in MMA. He’s looked amazing so far in the UFC, and now it’s time for him to face the toughest test of his career when he looks to take Whittaker’s undisputed belt home at UFC 243.
Robert Whittaker (-105)
Whittaker (20-4) is the UFC middleweight champion. The New Zealand-born Australian is 11-2 in the UFC including a perfect 8-0 mark in the middleweight division. His list of wins includes Yoel Romero (twice), Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Uriah Hall, Brunson and Tavares. Whittaker is also the former TUF Smashes winner. Whittaker is primarily a striker and has proven he has knockout power during his career as both a welterweight and middleweight. The difference fighting up a weight class has been his durability and his cardio, which are much more improved at 185lbs. In his last two fights he had two wars against Romero that he edged out by outlasting his opponent. He has shown during his current nine-fight win streak that he is one of the best fighters in the sport. He has plenty of championship experience and he will look to use all of the tools in his toolbox and prove that he is the best middleweight in the world this weekend when he takes on Adesanya in the main event of UFC 243.
Fight Breakdown: This is going to be an amazing fight and quite possibly one of the best middleweight title fights of all time. These two fighters are at the peak of their games right now and I expect nothing less than an incredible battle between two warriors. It’s a very close fight between two men who would beat the majority of the other middleweights on the roster, but only one man can win. My opinion is that Adesanya will edge out a close decision and become the new UFC middleweight champion. There’s a few things I like about Adesanya here. He has the reach advantage which should help him out in the striking exchanges. He has taken less damage than Whittaker and has been more active. He also has that undefeated aura about him. Whittaker hasn’t fought in over a year, has dealt with numerous injuries, and is finally fighting someone who can match him on the feet. I am expecting a close fight, but I believe Adesanya will win the decision.
Prediction: Israel Adesanya wins via decision