Israel Adesanya had a much different fight on his hands in a rematch against Robert Whittaker in the UFC 271 main event but the result was still the same in the end.
The reigning UFC Middleweight Champion had to work hard to beat Whittaker in five rounds. He won a unanimous decision and his fourth consecutive title defence. The final scorecards read 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47 with Adesanya moving to 22-1 in his career with the victory.
” I knew that he would bring everything, because last time, I took everything from him,” Adesanya stated after the latest victory. “So he had nothing to lose. Like I said, I’m the champ, you want it, come get it.”
Unlike their first meeting, Whittaker was far less aggressive at the start while Adesanya was setting up his kicks while constantly switching stances to keep “The Reaper” off balance. Adesanya took Whittaker down to the ground with less than two minutes left in the first round.
As Whittaker started to get desperate with takedown attempts, Adesanya was really sitting down on his punches as he always looked one combination away from earning another knockout.
Looking defeated as he walked back towards the corner, Whittaker had to change his game plan for the second round. Whittaker’s distance control was still maintained by Adesanya, but Whittaker began throwing more and was eating more brutal leg kicks.
Even though Whittaker was able to explode forward and score a takedown with his explosive attack, Adesanya quickly reacted to the situation by getting up from behind to get back on his feet.
However, Whittaker was not going anywhere and began to find success using a left-hand that would land when he was jumping forward. Adesanya, on the other hand, was as generous as they come. He fired back with exactly the same power that made Whittaker a success in the exchange.
With five minutes left, Adesanya continued acting as aggressor while Whittaker was content to be the counter-striker. Whittaker did try to turn back to his wrestling, which was obviously a key part of his strategy, but Adesanya refused to stay on the ground as he either stuffed the takedowns or quickly worked back to his feet.
“I knew he was going to try and copy Jan [Blachowicz’s] homework,” Adesanya said about Whittaker’s takedowns. He couldn’t bring me down .”
because I was the bigger dog in his yard.
While he couldn’t hold him down, Whittaker was still putting Adesanya on his heels, which prevented “The Last Stylebender” from really unleashing his best strikes as he also had to play defense from the shots coming back at him. Whittaker tried his hardest, but it was not enough to convince the judges. He felt that he should have won.
” I know that I was rocky at the beginning, but afterward I felt like I won every round,” Whittaker stated. What do they have to say? Do not leave the decision to the judges. I’m happy that I fought my heart out. I’m gutted. It seemed like I had done enough. That was what I believed.
” I was shocked by the outcome. It is what it is. I’m not going to take anything away from him. He is the champion. He beat me for the second time. We’re the two best in the world, I know this, he knows this. This is what we know .
Adesanya praised Whittaker for being the UFC’s second-best middleweight, but he stated that the difference between them was still quite wide. Following the rematch, Whittaker definitely made a better showing for himself but Adesanya is still leaving as the UFC middleweight champion and he already has designs on his next fight.
“I know June doesn’t have a pay-per-view yet but I’m the big dog in the yard now and I know the other dog Jared Cannonier just did some work tonight,” Adesanya said. Watch me. Watch me.”