UFC: 243 | Squared Up: Adesanya vs Whittaker Fight Analysis & Predictions

Jason Paglia

Wednesday, October 2, 2019 6:41 AM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 6:41 AM UTC

Israel Adesanya squares up against Robert Whittaker to unify the 185 lbs. championship strap and this main event is going to be epic

<div><p>The Ultimate Fighting Championship goes down under! For the first time in 4 years the UFC goes back to Melbourne, Australia for UFC: 243. It was at UFC: 193 four years ago, when Holly Holm beat Ronda Rousey and shocked the world that the Marvel Stadium last featured the UFC. Well what a main event they have there this weekend. It all goes down Saturday night and the main event is going to be EPIC, when Israel Adesanya squares up against Robert Whittaker to unify the 185 lbs. championship strap. This is going to be like picking between your son and your daughter. To say we have our work cut out for us this weekend is an understatement my friends. Ok, enough talk. Let’s get after it!</p><h2 style="text-align:center"><strong>ISRAEL ADESANYA (17-0) vs ROBERT WHITTAKER (20-4)</strong></h2><h2 style="text-align:center"><strong><img alt src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/IzC2ZWaI2pBlph7DztC0qP7DGe8=/0x0:5082x3474/1200x800/filters:focal(2318x428:3130x1240)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/63078599/usa_today_12138550.0.jpg" style="width:700px;height:467px" /></strong><br /><b>Israel Adesanya</b></h2><div><p>Although he was born in Lagos and trained in Taekwondo at an early age, The Style Bender began the true journey after he moved to New Zealand. It was there at the age of 13 that he began practicing the arts of Kickboxing and Muay Thai. At the age of 18 he became an amateur kickboxer. After a 32-0 amateur kickboxing he moved back to New Zealand and began focusing on mixed martial arts in addition to kickboxing.</p><p>In 2012 he made his professional MMA debut. In the next 5.5 years fighting in various countries around the world he amassed an 11-0 MMA record. Finally, in 2017 it was announced that Israel Adesanya had signed a multi-fight contract with the biggest MMA promotion in the world. He made his UFC debut at UFC: 221 against Rob Wilkinson. He won that fight by TKO and the rest is history. Including his UFC debut, he is 6-0 and the current UFC Interim Middleweight Champion. Israel Adesanya has one more step to reach the pinnacle of mixed martial arts and Saturday night he will have his opportunity. Will he take his opportunity and the middle weight championship by the throat on Saturday night? Below is a look at the ‘Last Style Bender’, by the numbers.</p><h2><strong><u>― STATS ―</u></strong></h2><p>•<strong>Method of Victory •Significant Strikes </strong>(per/min)<strong> •Takedowns </strong></p><p>▪13 wins by TKO ▪ 4.44 Landed ▪ 0% Accuracy</p><p>▪4 wins by Decision ▪ 2.49 Absorbed ▪ 85.71% Defended</p><p>▪0 win by Submission</p><h2><strong><u>― PROS ―</u></strong></h2><p>• <strong>Striking</strong> (He is one of the top 3 strikers in professional mixed martial arts right now. Quite frankly for my money, his dynamic and creative striking is the best in the sport today.</p><p>• <strong>Range / Movement </strong>(Adesanya’s movement is so unorthodox and he gives you so many interesting looks in the cage that he presents a riddle wrapped in a conundrum wrapped in a big f*****g problem looking to beat your ass. His length and reach make it quite easy for him to escape the damage while darting back in range to exchange. Absolutely impeccable range and movement.)</p><p>• <strong>Volume </strong>(Although he has 13 knockouts in professional MMA, he does not appear to be a power striker in the same vein of a Yoel Romero or Paulo Costa. What he uses is a massive amount of volume to win rounds, and if his movement confuses opponents and they get off balance he is capable of dropping you. That exact thing is what dropped Kelvin Gastelum twice in his last fight.</p><p>•<strong> Speed (He is Bruce Lee fast in that cage. It is a sight to see.)</strong></p><h2><strong><u>― CONS ―</u></strong></h2><p>• <strong>Ground Game </strong>(Style Bender doesn’t have many flaws. When you are fighting for championships at this level in MMA, there aren’t many things that you don’t do well as a general rule. BUT, with all that said, he doesn’t appear to have, or at least we haven’t seen his skills on the ground. That leads me to believe he doesn’t have any. Zero submissions victories and 0% takedown accuracy, which I guess means he has never attempted one. Watching his fights earlier today, I don’t recall seeing him attempt one.)</p><div style="text-align:center"><img alt src="https://cdn.mmanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/robert-whittaker-yoel-romero-fight-picture-696x390.jpg" style="width:700px;height:392px" /></div><h2 style="text-align:center"><b>Robert Whittaker</b></h2><div><p>Robert Whittaker started training in Karate from a young age. As he got older, he switched to Hapkido under Henry Perez. By a twist of fate, Whittaker was forced to switch to mixed martial arts after the owner of the Hapkido gym that Whittaker was training at switched practices. Immediately Robert Whittaker loved the sport and became addicted to it. He decided this would be his path in life and he began training to eventually become a professional.</p><p>In 2008 Whittaker turned pro an signed a contract with Australia’s Xtreme Fighting Championship. He would go 6-0 for that promotion and 9-2 total including other fights for regional promotions. In 2012 Whittaker was chose to be a cast member on UFC’s realty television competition ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. He made it to the finals of the competition and at UFC on FX 6 beat Brad Scott to win the competition and a UFC contract. He took full advantage of the opportunity. Ince joining the UFC he has won 11 of 13 fights including fighting against Yoel Romero for the UFC middleweight championship. He beat Romero that night and again in a rematch at UFC 225. Although Whittaker enters Saturdays fight with the title, he has not fought since June of 2018. How will he react to the time off and will he be able to defend the title again? Those questions will be answered on Saturday night. Below is a look at Robert Whittaker, by the numbers.</p><h2><strong><u>― STATS ―</u></strong></h2><p>•<strong>Method of Victory •Significant Strikes </strong>(per/min)<strong> •Takedowns </strong></p><p>▪9 wins by TKO ▪ 4.82 Landed ▪ 57.14% Accuracy</p><p>▪6 wins by Decision ▪3.65 Absorbed ▪ 84.13% Defended</p><p>▪5 wins by Submission</p><h2><strong><u>― PROS ―</u></strong></h2><p>• <strong>Wrestling </strong>(Although Bobby Knuckles is one of the more well-rounded mixed martial artists in the UFC today, he is an outstanding wrestler. He won the Australian National Wrestling Championships at his weight class and even passed up an opportunity to compete for Australia in the Olympics. Surprisingly he has not relied on it in recent years but know he can dust it off the shelf whenever he needs it.)</p><p>• <strong>Striking </strong>(Whittaker’s name may not be on the list of anyone’s best strikers, but he is elite. His combinations are solid, he attacks his opponents from multiple angles, he has wicked leg kicks and the power to plant anyone and knock them out.)</p><p>• <b>Cardio </b>(His gas tank is phenomenal. He has fought in multiple 5 round wars in which his cardio held up well. He has been through the wars, in all of them he was standing on the other end, most usually with a victorious hand raised, and that is good enough for me.</p><h2><strong><u>― CONS ―</u></strong></h2><p>•<strong> Chin </strong>(Like I said with Adesanya, there are not many faults with championship level fighters. That is why they are championship level fighters. BUT if I am being picky, he was cracked and dropped multiple times by Yoel Romero, but the chances are Romero would drop whichever lord and savior you’re a fan of... so, it’s tough to hold it against him, I don’t.)</p><p><a href="http://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=168&amp;a=4417b7df-a48f-47f3-9b45-f79858bc083a&amp;f=3" target="_blank"><img alt src="https://images-production-euw2-753931602578.s3.amazonaws.com/5d582dcf927b95968483da5f/original-10-bet-new-customer-welcome-bonus" style="width:100%" /></a></p><h2><strong>THE VERDICT</strong></h2><p><strong>So, who wins this fight? It might be easier to pick which of your sons or daughters you love more, than the winner of this fight but I’ll try. If you asked me who has the easiest path to victory. I would say it’s Robert Whittaker. The problem is he has really gone away from his wrestling and became much more reliant on his striking the last few years. If he came in with the game plan of walking through everything Adesanya throws at him, grabs him and puts Adesanya on his back, I think he could win this fight. The problem with that is Adesanya has an 85% takedown defense. In fairness it has not been Robert Whittaker trying to put him on his back but still, 85% is 85%.</strong></p><p><strong>If you are asking me who wins this fight, and that is what this article is about, I think I have to go with Adesanya. As far as I’m concerned, Israel has only been tested in one fight. That can be both good and bad. The opponents that were put in front of him were a joke. Fighters that aren’t on his level, and an aging legend 8 years past his prime. So there is not much I can take from those fights. The only fighter that tested him was his last fight against Kelvin Gastelum. A lot of times, the most important attribute you could have in that cage is the ability to fight through adversity. Gastelum gave Adesanya the toughest test he was capable of, he dropped Adesanya in the 2<sup>nd</sup> round and had him hurt in the 4<sup>th</sup> round. As hurt as Adesanya had been anyway. So, going into that 5<sup>th</sup> round most judges had the fight scored two rounds each. So, Adesanya’s test was how would he respond in the 5<sup>th</sup> round? Would he go out and take the belt in the 5<sup>th</sup>? He answered that question with probably the most devastating round that Gastelum has ever been faced with in his UFC Career. Adesanya was spectacular in that round and he proved that he could rise to the occasion, grab the moment and make it his bitch.</strong></p><p><strong>Robert Whittaker is far more battle tested. He has truly been through wars of attrition and has always come out the other side a winner. I’M not going to lie to you and tell you that isn’t concerning for me because it is. What is equally concerning for me is the fact that Bobby Knuckles hasn’t fought since June of 2018. That is a long layoff coming into a championship fight where he won’t be able to afford 1.5 rounds shrugging off the ring rust. By the time he is his truly Bobby Knuckles in there, he can easily be down 2 rounds to nil in favor of Adesanya.</strong></p><p><strong>So, I will end this verdict the way I started it. Who wins this fight? Well before the world knew who Israel Adesanya was, I saw a young kid fighting in the Australian Fighting Championship. I watched what he did to Melving Guillard and I said to myself, ‘that is a future undisputed UFC champion.’ He was raw, but he flew off the screen. Now he is one win from realizing that prognostication. He looks more dynamic then ever and I am not going to jump off that train now. Give me ‘The Last Style Bender’ one more time and make me a genius.</strong></p><p><u><strong>THE PICK</strong></u></p><p><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&amp;a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18&amp;f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="UFC Betting Odds"><em><strong>Israel Adesanya to win at 21/20 (2.05) with Bet365</strong></em></a></p><p><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&amp;a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18&amp;f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="UFC Betting Odds"><em><strong>Israel Adesanya to win by decision at 5/1 (6.00) with Bet365</strong></em></a></p></div></div></div>
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