It took Israel Adesanya less than two years and only seven fights to become the best middleweight in the UFC.
At UFC 243 from Melbourne, Australia, Adesanya capped off an incredible run since joining the roster by knocking out Robert Whittaker in the second round in a title unification bout in front of more than 57,000 fans inside Marvel Stadium.
Not even four years ago, Adesanya was sitting in the crowd as a fan at UFC 193 in the same stadium only to return with a jaw-dropping knockout at 3:33 in the second round to move to 18-0 in his career while becoming the undisputed UFC middleweight champion.
“I’m real petty. I remember everything like an elephant. Like I said, I was in the nose bleeds and now I made his nose bleed,” Adesanya said following his win.
It took no time for Whittaker to start gunning for the knockout as soon as the fight began as he started unleashing huge, powerful shots aimed directly at Adesanya’s head. In return, Adesanya countered by setting up his long jab while trying to slow Whittaker’s frantic pace.
While Adesanya is well known for his kickboxing pedigree, Whittaker showed no fear trading shots with him on the feet throughout the opening round. The constant haymakers left Whittaker open for a perfectly placed right hand from Adesanya that dropped the middleweight champion just as the horn sounded.
The knockdown didn’t seem to carry over into the second round with Whittaker attacking immediately but the confidence was beginning to surge in Adesanya.
Time after time with Whittaker lunging forward, Adesanya just sat back and started picking him apart with accurate counter punches. Adesanya also managed a nasty head kick that was partially blocked but still seemingly rattled Whittaker for a split second before he started firing back in return.
Despite getting clipped with several stinging shots, Whittaker refused to back down from his overtly aggressive game plan as he was once again in Adesanya’s face launching bombs in succession.
That’s when “The Last Stylebender” uncorked a beautiful right hand that clipped Whittaker followed by a left hand that demolished the former “Ultimate Fighter” winner and sent him crashing to the canvas. Adesanya followed up with a few more shots on the ground as the referee jumped into stop the fight before Whittaker could take any more damage.
“I eat it and I give it back two times,” Adesanya said about the knockout. “That’s a two-piece right there.”
Naija stand up! HE'S DONE IT!@Stylebender finishes Whittaker in the 2nd round! Wow! #UFC243 pic.twitter.com/IS1f8lL8Lt— UFC (@ufc) October 6, 2019
It’s been a meteoric rise for Adesanya, who just had his first UFC fight in February 2018 and now he’s standing tall as the undefeated and undisputed king of the middleweights.
After celebrating his victory with friends and family inside the Octagon, Adesanya then turned towards top ranked contender Paulo Costa, who was sitting cage side just waiting to get his attention.
“You know who’s next.,” Adesanya said while singling out Costa. “I’ve got this overly inflated balloon animal. He better not step into this cage tonight. It’s my Octagon.”
Costa earned his shot at the title with a win over Yoel Romero in his last outing and the bad blood with Adesanya will undoubtedly make that one of the most highly anticipated fights of 2020 when these two finally clash.
As for Whittaker, his tile reign ends after a valiant effort to defeat Adesanya following an undefeated run at middleweight that lasted for eight fights. Considering his standing in the division, it won’t likely take Whittaker long to get back into contention but for now he’ll have to wait for Adesanya to do battle with Costa next year.