Robert Whittaker takes on Israel Adesanya at the main event of UFC 243 on October 6, 2019, at the Melbourne Stadium in Australia. The bout will be for the UFC middleweight title.
Whittaker is the current champion while Adesanya won the interim title while the champion was nursing an injury. With the champion back at full strength the two most popular MMA fighters from the Land Down Under square off in the UFC octagon for the right to be called the undisputed UFC middleweight champion.
Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker
Whittaker was the winner of the first series of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. He has been an MMA fighter since 2009 but joined the UFC in 2012 after winning the TUF. He is a former Australian National Amateur Wrestling Champion and qualified for the Commonwealth games for amateur wrestling.
The Reaper has an MMA record of 20-4 with nine knockouts and five wins by submission. Since back to back losses to Court McGee and Stephen Thompson in 2012 and 2013, respectively, Whittaker has won nine fights in a row including consecutive title bouts against Yoel Romero. Whittaker stands 6-0 tall with a reach of 73.5 inches.
Odds were taken from Titan Bet as of 9/02/19
Israel “Last Stylebender” Adesanya
The Last Stylebender was a former two-time Cruiserweight and Heavyweight champion in the King of the Ring promotion. He was also a Glory middleweight contender title winner and is the current interim UFC middleweight champion after defeating Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236 in a Fight of the Night winner last April.
The 30-year old Adesanya has a record of 17-0 with 13 knockouts. The Nigerian-New Zealander stands 6-4 and has a reach of 80 inches while fighting out of the orthodox style. This former kickboxer and boxer is an undefeated 6-0 since entering the UFC promotion in 2018. He was the Hex Fighting Series Middleweight champion in Australia before relinquishing the belt to fight in the UFC.
Despite coming off an injury and not fighting since June 2018, Robert Whittaker enters this match as the slight UFC betting favorite. The Reaper has a very solid UFC resume that includes victories over the likes of Uriah Hall, Derek Brunson, Jacare Souza, and Yoel Romero.
Whittaker isn’t the best fighter when on the canvass but he has shown time and again that he can thrive in that type of bout because of his elite wrestling background. When he gets on top position, Whittaker has a nasty ground and pound attack. On his feet, he is an aggressive striker who can land big shots and knock out any middleweight if he connects clean. He is also a durable fighter as we saw in his two bouts with Yoel Romero.
Adesanya is a freak athlete who comes from a boxing and kickboxing background. He is relentless on the stand-up and has a wide array of shots which he lands with accuracy because of his ridiculous reach. He is also one of the best when using his kicks to mix with his punches. The concern with him is that he doesn’t have much of a ground game and facing a top-quality wrestler like Whittaker, that might be a problem.
However, Whittaker can’t grab Adesanya without getting hit first. So since every fight starts on the feet, Adesanya will always have a chance to win this fight. I think this is going to be a terrific fight. Adesanya will force his striking while Whittaker will try to put him down and drag the fight on the canvass. I expect Adesanya to nail Whittaker early on but I think that the Reaper is durable enough to take the damage and force Adesanya into a dog fight. I like Adesanya’s elite striking but I think Whittaker’s wrestling is going to be the key to winning this fight.
Between the two, I will pick Whittaker because he has the experience and strength to force his game on his opponent. Adesanya will land his strikes but I think Whittaker is durable enough to survive and get the hard-earned win here. Prediction: Robert Whittaker