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Round 1: Referee Herb Dean in the cage to oversee this one. Adesanya keeping his distance, looking to land leg kicks and jabs. Tavares closes the distance fast and throws an overhand right before pressuring Adesanya against the cage. They separate, but Tavares catches Adesanya with a glancing punch. Tavares throws a high kick that the tall Adesanya mostly takes to the body, then Adesanya responds with a jab and an inside leg kick. Adesanya using a lot of fakes and feints, neither man putting together too much sustained offense. Straight punch lands for Adesanya and he catches Tavares with a counter knee. He lands another one in the clinch. Tavares shoots in, but Adesanya keeps his balanace and shakes him off. Front kick to the body by Adesanya. Now it’s Tavares who is backed up, Adesanya starting to land more. Adesanya goes for an Imanari roll out of nowhere, which Tavares stuffs.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9, Adesanya.
Round 2: Kick to the body and a kick to the leg score for Adesanya. Tavares pays for trying to close the distance, taking a knee to the body. Adesanya opening up again, picking apart Tavares. Head kick by Adesanya is partially blocked. Tavares takedown is stuffed, he pushes Adesanya against the fence. Adesanya reverses and breaks the clinch. Tavares really struggling to close the distance now without eating a strike. Adesanya with the short left hook. Tavares answers by pumping a couple of jabs at his face. His jab is getting through. Dean gives Adesanya a warning for his fingers being extended at Tavares’s face. Big body kick by Adesanya, followed by a trip. Tavares recovers, though he has a welt developing under his right eye.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9, Adesanya. Overall 20-18, Adesanya.
Round 3: Adesanya lands a leg kick and uses head movement to avoid Tavares’s counter-punches. Tavares’s jab is finding its mark, but so is Adesdanya’s. Knee to the body by Adesanya and Tavares beckons Adesanya to bring it on. Tavares’s combinations are falling just short of the target as Adesanya stays out of range. He scores a quick trip, but Tavares is back up. Adesanya lands a loud body kick. They bounce off each other as they both try to land flying knees. Tavares goes for a takedown with no setup and Adesanya easily avoids it. Inside leg kick for Adesanya, then he blocks another takedown. Adesanya’s jab is keeping Tavares at bay. He catches a Tavares kick and has him hopping on one leg, but Tavares is able to get his arms up and block a spinning elbow. Right hand over the top by Adesanya followed by a knee up the middle. Tavares’s chin is holding up. Adesanya kicking the body, walking Tavares down against the fence.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9, Adesanya. Overall 30-27, Adesanya.
Round 4: Tavares lands a short punch, but can’t follow up as Adesanya stays evasive. He hits Tavares with a front kick to the face, then has to defend against a takedown. Tavares finally manages to drag Adesanya down to the mat. Adesanya’s long legs are keeping Tavares from doing any damage from top position, Tavares shrugs off a triangle choke attempt. Tavares briefly on Adesanya’s back, but Adesanya is able to stand up. He uses a kimura to bring Tavares down and land some punches as they slowly scramble back to their feet. Elbow in the clinch by Adesanya. Another elbow connects as Tavares tries to duck in. Dean calls for a break in the action to have the ringside physician check the cut above Tavares’s eye. Tavares just standing in front of Adesanya, absorbing jabs and a hard body punch. Inside leg kick has Tavares stumbling as he tries to punch at Adesanya. Jab by Tavares. He gets backed up against the fence and Adesanya lands a big knee to the body.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9, Adesanya. Overall 40-36, Adesanya.
Round 5: Clinch for Tavares goes nowhere. Adesanya with the front kick, then the jab. Inside leg kicks scores for Adesanya. He stuffs a Tavares takedown and uses a front face lock to turn Tavares onto his back, then he transitions into side back control. Ground-and-pound by Adesanya. Tavares going for a kneebar, but Adesanya just slips out and stands back up. Leg kick, then a 1-2 by Adesanya, he’s clearly winning the volume battle. Tavares with a slow shot, easily blocked, Adesanya back in top position for a moment before Tavares slips out. Another Tavares takedown is stopped. Adesanya’s striking is dictating where this match goes. Not much output from either man. Adesanya ends the fight in top position as Tavares’s desperation takedown goes nowhere.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9, Adesanya. Overall 50-45, Adesanya.
Official result: Israel Adesanya def. Brad Tavares via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)