Israel Adesanya is the undisputed UFC Middleweight Champion.
Adesanya (18-0) made quick work of Robert Whittaker (20-5), knocking him out in the second round of the UFC 243 main event in Melbourne, Australia. Adesanya had talked endlessly about how he planned to dominate the fight; once he stepped into the Octagon, that's exactly what he did.
Next up for Adesanya appears to be a title defense against Paulo Costa, which would be an incredible clash of styles. If Adesanya can outlast the powerful Costa, then a date with the great Jon Jones would loom.
As a whole, UFC 243 was solid but far from great. There were no star-building moments, though the card had its share of entertaining highlights. Yorgan de Costa kicked off the main card with a vicious knockout of Justin Tafa, and Sergey Spivak upset the crowd (and the money line) with a dismantling of favorite Tai Tuivasa. The co-main event was another compelling bout, as Dan Hooker’s victory was impressive in a unanimous decision against Al Iaquinta. Hooker should jump into the top 10 lightweight rankings after he chunked away to win the fight. Dhiego Lima also delivered an upset, out-classing welterweight Luke Jumeau from bell to bell in a win that the judges should have scored as unanimous.
But UFC 243 will forever belong to Izzy Adesanya.
Adesanya is on the cusp of becoming the UFC’s next major star. He showed off his knockout power and ability to engage the crowd with a never-before-seen dance entrance at 243. If he can follow up this win over Whittaker with a victory against Costa, then fight fans will be treated to Adesanya-Jones, a fight that has the potential to elevate Adesanya to an entirely different stratosphere in mixed martial arts.
Robert Whittaker vs. Israel Adesanya
Israel Adesanya has shed the word interim from his title.
A barrage of hooks from Adesanya (18-0) ended the Middleweight title reign of
Robert Whittaker (20-5), and Adesanya is now the undisputed king of the middleweights.
Despite entering the fight with advantages in striking, wrestling, and grappling, Whittaker was entirely outclassed by Adesanya. Entering the fight with all kinds of bravado, Adesanya walked out with a memorable entrance with complete dancers and spectacular moves, and he backed it all up in the cage, showing off his knockout power. Whittaker looked a few steps slower after his return from injury, which gives reason for a rematch down the line.
Adesanya is now 7-0 in the UFC. He called out Paulo Costa during his post-fight interview, but if he wants to reach the next level of stardom in mixed martial arts, Adesanya needs a date in the Octagon with Jon Jones.
Al Iaquinta vs. Dan Hooker
Dan Hooker looked incredible in a unanimous decision win against Al Iaquinta. That victory should propel Hooker (19-8) into the top 10, especially considering Iaquinta (14-6-1) was the No. 6-ranked lightweight in the UFC.
Hooker grabbed the attention of the crowd following the fight by calling out Dustin Poirier. I wouldn’t have envisioned that at the beginning of the night, but after was a one-sided contest, it was the perfect way to set up a monster fight.
Tai Tuivasa vs. Sergey Spivak
Sergey Spivak just picked up the biggest win of his fighting career.
Even with the crowd entirely behind him, Tuivasa (8-3) did not pick up the highlight reel victory he desperately needed. Instead, he lost by submission to an arm triangle. But that’s putting it kindly—Spivak dominated Tuivasa.
Tuivasa has a tendency to beat himself. Spivak took him down five times in the opening round, then twice more in round two before the ref called for the bell. Spivak can wrestle, and while Tuivasa has a limited ground game, Spivak fought the perfect fight to expose Tuivasa’s weaknesses.
Dhiego Lima vs. Luke Jumeau
It was no surprise to see that Dhiego Lima is a very good fighter, but he looked outstanding in this fight.
Lima (15-7) had previously been cut by the UFC, and this fight was undoubtedly set up for a Jumeau (13-5) big win. But that obviously wasn’t the case. A finish would have been a nice touch for Lima, but he was still extremely impressive. Jumeau was never able to penetrate the high guard of Lima, and his long, rangy legs delivered some brutal kicks on Jumeau.
The judges obviously saw a different fight, as one judge actually scored the fight for Jumeau, which is incomprehensible. This should have been for Lima unanimously, but he’ll take the split decision.
Opening Fight (Heavyweights)
Justin Tafa vs. Yorgan De Castro
Yorgan De Castro delivered an overhand right to knockout Justin Tafa (3-1) in the opening round.
De Castro (6-0) needed only 130 seconds to stun Tafa. He entered the fight relatively unknown, though those who watched The Contender series knew otherwise. De Castro wants another fight in December, and he now has some hype surrounding his name in a heavyweight division that needs some new stars.
Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya headline UFC 243 in a Middleweight Championship unification title fight that should double as the fight of the night.
This one is unlikely to go the distance. Will Whittaker humble the undefeated Adesanya (17-0) and give him his first loss? Whittaker (20-4) applies tremendous pressure, likely more than Adesanya has ever dealt with in his career. Or will Adesanya capitalize on a Whittaker mistake?
Either way, we are headed for a KO or TKO in the main event.
Tai Tuivasa should reassert himself with a dominant performance in heavyweight action against Sergey Spivak, and two other 243 fights that should stand out are Luke Jumeau-Dhiego Lima in a welterweight fight and a lightweight bout pitting Al Iaquinta against Dan Hooker. A dominating win for Iaquinta could put him back in the mix for a rematch against Khabib Nurmagomedov, who he took to the distance in unanimous decision loss in April of 2018.
UFC 243 is a top-heavy card, but it will add clarity to the Middleweight division.