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UFC 230 results: Israel Adesanya makes statement with first-round finish of Derek Brunson

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Israel Adesanya has wasted little time making the transition from prospect to legitimate contender.

“The Last Style Bender” won for the fourth time in nine months on Saturday night, and this time, it was far and away his biggest test to date.

The New Zealander by way of Nigeria waited for his opening, then unleashed a frightening barrage of strikes on veteran Derek Brunson in the main-card opener of UFC 230 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The carnage was waved off at the 4:51 mark of the opening round.

“I give myself a B-minus,” Adesanya said after his 13th career KO/TKO win. “They say, ‘man they got no wrestling. They say this was a walk in the park? No, this was a walk in the Garden, Madison baby.”

Brunson is known for his wrestling game, and he immediately engaged Adesanya in a clinch battle. But while there have been questions about Adesanya’s wrestling skill, he managed to escape from the clinch every time Brunson caught him, and managed to sprawl several attempts at single-leg takedowns.

You had the feeling that once Adesanya’s confidence built, he was going to strike, but it was truly astounding how fast he went from zero to 100 MPH. Adesanya hit a wicked knee as Brunson shot, which set up the first of four knockdowns. The second came after a head kick and right hand, and the third and fourth came on consecutive punches, which gave Herb Dean all the info he needed to wave the bout off.

“I started the game at level two and they’re still loading,” Adesanya said. “I keep saying I don’t throw it home, I aim and fired down the barrel.”

Adesanya is now 15-0 in MMA. His combined combat sports record including kickboxing and boxing is 96-8-1. Brunson (18-7) has dropped two in a row.

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