This is the UFC 197 live blog for Robert Whittaker vs. Rafael Natal, a middleweight bout at Saturday night's UFC event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
Whittaker, who has won four of his past five fights, will face Natal, who also has four wins in his past five fights, on the main card.
Check out the UFC 197 live blog below.
Round 1: These dudes have a hard act to follow after that Yair Rodriguez knockout. Big John McCarthy is the man in charge of the action. They touch gloves and we're off. Slow start to this one. Whittaker pops out his jab, then whiffs on a follow-up. Natal kicks the lead leg. Whittaker charges forward and they start exchanging. Natal changes levels for a single but can't get it. Neither man wants to lead the dance. Natal brushes Whittaker with a overhand right. Whittaker walks forward and eats a right. Whittaker storms inside and catches Natal with a heavy right hand! Natal is in trouble! Whittaker pounces and cracks Natal again! Natal backs out and survives the round. MMA Fighting scores it 10-9 Whittaker.
Round 2: Natal picks at the lead leg of Whittaker. Whittaker answers with a big right hand, and another! Natal just eats them and resets. Nice exchange as Natal lands a right hook. Natal kicks the midsection of Whittaker. Whittaker pressures Natal against the fence but can't land anything. Whittaker misses a head kick. Whittaker kicks low then eats a jab for his troubles. Natal switches stances and goes back downstairs with a kick. Whittaker pops out a series of jabs and crosses that catch Natal flush. Whittaker wades inside and just misses a heavy uppercut. Natal answers back but can't find his mark. Natal grasps for a single leg, only to eat a series of hard shots. Those changed his mind quick. Whittaker juuuust misses a wild lunging head kick. MMA Fighting scores it 10-9 Whittaker. (20-18 Whittaker.)
Round 3: They touch gloves as a sign of respect. And Whittaker promptly kicks Natal in the balls. That was fun. After a brief break, the action resumes. Whittaker tests his range with a few oblique kicks. Natal kicks to the body, then kicks low. Nice right hand counter lands for Whittaker. Whittaker backs Natal into the fence then chops at his lead leg. Natal swings for the fences but misses. Whittaker eats a right, then continues to work the lead leg of Natal. They trade leg kicks. Whittaker dazes Natal with a looping left! Another left hand connects for Whittaker. Whittaker is starting to bust up Natal. Natal whiffs on an overhand right. Natal lands a pair of nice kicks to the lead leg. Whittaker's left thigh is all sorts of red. Huge head kick staggers Natal! They slug it out to the finish. MMA Fighting scores it 10-9 Whittaker. (30-27 Whittaker)
UFC 197 results: Robert Whittaker def. Rafael Natal via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)