Adesanya fulfils nosebleed prophecy, stops Whittaker in 2
The main event of UFC 243 saw Interim Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya destroy Robert Whittaker, dropping him twice before winning by knockout at 3:32 of round 2. In a pre-fight interview he explained his rise from viewer to main event: "I started off sitting right up the back in the nosebleeds; now I'm gonna make his nose bleed". That prophecy came true today, as he bloodied the face of Whittaker on his way to a spectacular knockout finish.
Adesanya approached the ring with more than his usual theatrics. Three dancers preceded his entry, with a routine ready to go. Adesanya shortly joined them, himself dancing the same routine, including several of his signature poses. He seemed loose and relaxed as he entered the ring, having had over 100 professional fights in kickboxing and MMA.
Whittaker walked to the ring to Cold Chisel's Aussie classic Khe Sanh, looking as relaxed and at home, looking focused but relaxed as he prepared to represent his country. The crowd roared as Whittaker was announced, beating his chest red as Bruce Buffer introduced him.
They touched gloves and it began.
Adesanya orthodox to start with, Whittaker lunging with the oblique kick, follows up with a flurry moving forward and another oblique kick. Whittaker again lunges in with looping punches upstairs and another leg kick attempt. Adesanya waiting for his opening, measuring the distance. Whittaker lands a couple of punches upstairs and they circle away from each other. Adesanya briefly into southpaw but back to orthodox as Whittaker again lunges forth with looping punches upstairs before angling out. Izzy with a front kick, Whittaker returns with another oblique kick. They trade punches. Adesanya jabbing into the guard. Whittaker whiffs a headkick, lands an oblique kick. They clinch, and Adesanya complains of an eye poke. A quick pause and they re-engage. Whittaker feints upstairs and lands a hard leg kick. Whittaker whiffs a superman punch as Adesanya angles out. They both land leg kicks. Izzy glances a lead headkick off the guard, and the next one gets Whittaker's attention. Whittaker again lunges forth but misses. Adesanya retreating well, L-stepping instead of just going straight backwards. Adesanya leaning to avoid the punches of Whittaker, but unable to land anything of consequence in return. At the close of the round, Adesanya caught Whittaker with a beautiful right uppercut which sat him on his backside! Whittaker crashed backwards and was saved from the followup shots by the bell.
Whittaker in the centre again, throwing more oblique kicks amidst lunging combinations pursuing Adesanya around the ring. Adesanya slipping and countering with beautiful timing. They both whiff heavy shots, Whittaker advancing while Adesanya slides out of range. Adesanya measuring distance with the jab, and again hurts Whittaker with a right hand. A hard headkick crashed into the guard and seemed to hurt Whittaker, whose nose is bloodied. Hard leg kick lands for Adesanya, Whittaker lands a left hook. Whittaker throws a headkick but it misses, throws another on the end of a punch combination into the guard of Adesanya. Whittaker checks a kick. A wild exchange ensues and Adesanya CLOBBERS Whittaker with a left hook which sends him staggering backwards to the canvas. Adesanya followed like a striking snake, unloading a couple of shots before referee Marc Goddard stepped in.
Result: Israel Adesanya defeats Robert Whittaker by KO in round 2.
After he captured the Middleweight championship, Adesanya was quick to mention Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who has thrown shade at Adesanya on Twitter previously, a matchup between the two having been theorised by MMA analysts of late. Paolo Costa will surely face Adesanya next, and could be seen trying to get closer to the cage after the fight.