The middleweight title was unified in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday as champion Robert Whittaker and interim titleholder Israel Adesanya headlined the UFC 243 fight card. The event set the UFC record for attendance with more than 57,000 spectators filling Marvel Stadium. Those in attendance witnessed Adesanya dethrone Whittaker and become the undisputed 185-pound champion.
Whittaker took the fight to Adesanya and was aggressive in his attacks. He threw every shot with bad intentions but Adesanya slipped just out of the way of taking heavy damage. With his hands down, “The Last Stylebender” used head movement to avoid power punches and head kicks. Whittaker lunged in with punches and paid the price for it. Just before the bell sounded signaling the end of the first round, Adesanya landed a counter right hand that sent Whittaker crashing to the canvas.
Unfazed by the knockdown, Whittaker continued his aggressive pursuit of Adesanya in the second frame. He connected with a stiff jab and landed a combination. The action picked up as the two exchanged in the center of the octagon. Whittaker landed a jab that snapped Adesanya’s head back, but Adesanya answered with a two-punch counter that dropped the champion. Two more follow-up shots was all the referee needed to see to step in and stop the fight.
“He threw everything we expected,” said Adesanya following the title unification win. “We had everything from his plan A, plan B, plan C. In this fight we had it all the way up to Z.”
“I can take it and I can give it back,” added the undisputed champion. “He’s right, I don’t like to get hit. It’s stupid to get hit. I’m not that tough. I am tough, but I’m smart. At the end of the day, me and my team, we’re smart.”
Whittaker took the loss in stride and promised to be back in a title fight before long.
“My hat’s off to Adesanya. He’s a great striker. I thought I was doing pretty well until you get caught,” he said. “Hell, I’m only 28. I’ll see him in a fight or two… This is the best that I’ve felt. I didn’t get the W today, but I’m not going anywhere.”
UFC 243: Whittaker vs. Adesanya Results
– Israel Adesanya def. Robert Whittaker by KO (punches) at 3:33, R2
– Dan Hooker def. Al Iaquinta by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
– Sergey Spivak def. Tai Tuivasa by submission (arm-triangle choke) at 3:14, R2
– Dhiego Lima def. Luke Jumeau by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
– Yorgan de Castro def. Justin Tafa by KO (punch) at 2:10, R1
Preliminary Card Results
– Jake Matthews def. Rostem Akman by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
– Callan Potter def. Maki Pitolo by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
– Brad Riddell def. Jamie Mullarkey by unanimous decision (29-27, 30-26, 30-26)
– Megan Anderson def. Zarah Fairn dos Santos by submission (triangle choke) at 3:57, R1
– Ji Yeon Kim def. Nadia Kassem by TKO (body punches) at 4:59, R2
– Khalid Taha def. Bruno Silva by submission (arm-triangle choke) at 3:00, R3