Nigeria-born mixed martial arts fighter Israel Adesanya comfortably defeated Robert Whittaker on Saturday night to retain his middleweight title at UFC 271 in Houston, Texas, US.
The rematch comes three years since the first in 2019. Adesanya won that fight by knockout. Whittaker, however, earned his rematch by way of three wins.
Adesanya’s kickboxing style and seven-inch reach advantage made him difficult for Whittaker to find on the inside.
Adesanya attacked with the leg kicks early, landing 12 within a round, and had dropped Whittaker with just three minutes on the clock after landing a right hand through the guard.
The Australian replied with a sloppy takedown attempt, and admitted in his corner that the kicks had hurt him.
In the second round, Whittaker was more aggressive, but it appeared to play into Adesanya’s hands.
Whittaker managed to land that all-important takedown halfway through the second, but Adesanya managed to get up quickly and continue his leg kick offence.
Adesanya looked to be in trouble in the third round as he appeared to be struggling with an injury of some sort.
By round four, Whittaker almost locked the Nigerian on submission.
Whittaker only needed a knockout in round five to become the new middleweight champion. However, Adesanya did not give in. He fought back hard to retain his title by unanimous decision.