The stage can not bigger than UFC 243 which features the biggest fight in Oceanic MMA history. UFC middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker will defend his undisputed title against interim titleholder, Israel Adesanya. Apart from the classic Aussie vs Kiwi rivalry, this fight is special for several more reasons. We have Israel Adesanya who is arguably the best striker in UFC at the moment who is unbeaten in his MMA career and we have Robert Whittaker, who has proven his greatness over the years with wins over big names such as Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero. So let’s try to match up these two champions, who are going to face each other in the most intriguing fight of the year. Here is UFC 243: Robert Whittaker vs Israel Adesanya.
- Whittaker is unbeaten in the middleweight division(8 fight win streak).
- Faced Yoel Romero twice in his last two fights and won via decision.
- Has a better body of work and experience inside the octagon than Israel Adesanya.
- Adesanya is unbeaten in his MMA career with 17 wins.
- Has 6 inch reach advantage over Whittaker(74-inch reach).
- Fought Anderson Silva and Kelvin Gastelum in his last two fights and won via decision.
On paper, Whittaker does seem the favorite. He is faster than Adesanya and covers the distance in lightning speed. He is stronger than Adesanya. He may not be as elusive as the Nigerian when it comes to striking, but he is a great boxer. Whittaker also has versatilities in his game. Since his last fight against Romero, he has been working on his wrestling skills and even got into the national team for Common Wealth games. So that might play a big factor in this fight.
That apart Whittaker has a better resume than Adesanya has in MMA. Whittaker has wins over Jacare Souza, Yoel Romero, Uriah Hall, and Brunson. However, Adesanya has two notable wins in his career so far. Kelvin Gastelum and Anderson Silva and we can all agree that Silva, who has not won a fight for years now, does not add significant accolades to Adesanya’s resume. Although, it’s safe to assume that Adesanya is a better striker than Silva was in his prime.
They call him the Last Style Blender and his striking inside the octagon justifies the name. When we talk about striking in MMA, Adesanya is sitting at the very top. His timing, precision and fight IQ put him on multiple levels above the rest of the fighters.
The most crucial part of his game is the feints. He is very elusive when it comes to striking. His hip movement or little twitch in the legs keep his opponent guessing for what’s coming next. That does not just offset the rhythm of his opponent it also allows him to land his strikes when least expected.
Adesanya can set up his opponents for a perfect blow that might get his opponent rocked. However, he rarely goes for the finish with all his might. He likes to snipe his opponents from the outside. He has incredible leg kicks, elbows, and he switches stances fluently.
Apart from striking, Adesanya’s takedown defense is best in the middleweight division as per the statistics. However, he has not been tested by an elite wrestler such as Romero.
So how would the fight between Whittaker and Adesanya play out?
Israel Adesanya is not impossible to hit. Kelvin Gastelum being the shorter fighter was at a big disadvantage against Adesanya. However, he was able to cover the distance and land the left hooks to hurt Izzy and Whittaker can do much better than that. He will close the distance much faster than Gastelum did, he will land more powerful strikes than Gastelum for sure. The leg kick combined with the left hand is always there for Whittaker.
Adesanya has not faced anyone who is remotely as good as Robert Whittaker. The Reaper always tries to engage, let it be an oblique kick or a jab. His striking heavily depends on his fast movements which might get Izzy in trouble. Whittaker can hurt Adesanya since he closes the distance very fast and if you close the distance against Adesanya that takes away a key factor of his game, his leg kicks. Another way to nullify that will be Whittaker’s wrestling.
I see this fight play out a couple of ways. Whittaker closes the distance, knocks out Adesanya within two rounds or else the fight goes to distance and Adesanya pick apart Whittaker. Adesanya is unlikely to knock Whittaker out. However, he can win the fight by decision. If Whittaker stays at a range suitable for the Nigerian, then the Player one is going to chop him with the leg kicks for sure.
Whittaker’s inactivity might play a big factor in this fight. Not to mention the injuries he has suffered in and out of the octagon. Whether he has healed up from those nasty injuries or not we will find out when he fights Adesanya. However, I am leaning towards Whittaker to get the job done in UFC 243.
Adesanya leans back when he tries to avoid a strike let it be a hook or a jab. Unlike his previous opponents, Whittaker can close the distance and land heavy. Whittaker also does not over commit to his jabs or hooks which allows him to reset if he misses one strike and gets ready for the next blow. So he is likely to deal with the feints of Adesanya good enough.
Israel Adesanya is a superstar in the making for sure. There are some huge super fights for Izzy if he wins against Whittaker. The Jon Jones super fight is now on the table, the fight with Paulo Costa seems intriguing. He might even upset the world and gets the job done in UFC 243. However, that’s very unlikely at the moment.
UFC 243: Robert Whittaker vs Israel Adesanya Prediction:
Robert Whittaker via KO