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UFC 271 Recap: Israel Adesanya Beats Robert Whittaker Via Unanimous Decision

Israel Adesanya remains the gold standard.

Adesanya (22–1) successfully defended his middleweight title against Robert Whittaker in the main event of UFC 271, winning the bout by unanimous decision.

Whittaker (23–6) performed better through the fight, but four out of those five rounds belonged to Adesanya. Adesanya landed some outrageously effective outside leg kicks, and never found himself in any real danger. Whittaker stuck to his game plan, but needed to fight with more urgency in the championship rounds. Clearly, he needed a finish to win. Even with Whittaker’s takedowns, he simply was not scoring.

The win is Adesanya’s eleventh consecutive victory as a middleweight in the UFC, only two behind the record set by the great Anderson Silva. With each victory, Adesanya continues to cement his legacy as one of the greatest to ever step foot in the Octagon.

Whittaker now enters into a difficult reality. He is the second-best middleweight in the world, exacerbated by two losses to Adesanya. A new pursuit of the title would likely begin with a fight against Sean Strickland, which would be the start of a lengthy streak where Whittaker would need to run the gamut in order to get another shot at the belt. While Whittaker could go back to the welterweight division, he is too small for light heavyweight—and does not fight too often, a tough combination if he opts to leave the division.

UFC 271 had its share of highlights, particularly in the co-main event. Tai Tuivasa knocked out Derrick Lewis, making a convincing claim that he is the UFC’s new knockout king. The victory will completely disrupt the heavyweight rankings, where Tuivasa (14–3) will likely jump from No. 11 all the way to No. 3.

Lewis (26–9, 1 NC) appeared to have the fight under control as the second round started, until Tuivasa delivered a combination that included a left hook, right hand and then the fateful right elbow shot that sent Lewis to the mat. Tuivasa’s power is impressive, as is his ability to withstand punishment. This was a statement win, one that establishes him on an entirely new level in the UFC.

In what equated to a number-one contender match, Jared Cannonier escaped a difficult opening round to deliver a second-round TKO against Derek Brunson. Cannonier (15–5) left no doubt that he is the next in line for a middleweight title bout, ending a five-fight win streak where Brunson (23–8) had looked elite.

The main card opened with back-to-back lightweight bouts. Bobby Green put on a clinic in a unanimous decision victory against Nasrat Haqparast. Green (29–12, 1 NC) landed 163 significant strikes in a completely one-sided bout. Haqparast (13-5) had no answer for Green’s boxing, nor did he ever attempt to bring the fight to the mat.

Following Green’s performance, Renato Moicano forced Alexander Hernandez to tap. This was the third victory in the past four fights for Moicano (16-4-1), and all three of those wins came courtesy of his rear naked choke. Moicano used his striking to gain an advantage and then get the back of Hernandez (13–5), quickly making him tap. Moicano should get an opponent from the top-15 in his next fight, likely from the No. 14 or 15 spot.

The future is clear for the top performers at 271. Tuivasa will jump to the top tier of the heavyweight division, and a potential bout against Ciryl Gane would be must-see. Cannonier finally gets his title shot, and Adesanya–who wants nothing more than to run through the middleweight division for a second time–seeks to continue this iconic run.


Israel Adesanya closed out UFC 271 with a unanimous decision victory against Robert Whittaker.

The victory marked Adesanya’s eleventh consecutive win in the UFC middleweight division, and he delivered more than enough damage throughout the first four rounds to withstand a difficult fifth against Whittaker (23–6).

Adesanya (22–1) controlled the pace in the first round, hitting Whittaker with a vicious leg kick and knocking him down with a strike. Whittaker landed some offense in the second round, hitting a takedown and landing some impactful strikes. But Adesanya still did damage, and his speed was a constant problem for Whittaker.

The third round saw Whittaker attempt to bring the fight to the mat, but Adesanya never allowed him to control the action on the ground. Whittaker landed another takedown in the fourth round and took Adesanya’s back, but again, Adesanya quickly ended that threat.

Whittaker hit a couple jabs to Adesanya’s face in the first two minutes of the fifth round. He then hit Adesanya with another takedown, as well as a stiff left hand. Whittaker stayed on Adesanya, never letting him explode offensively, and he avoided the knockout blow at all costs. This wasn’t the most popular fight, as evidenced by the boos from those in attendance, but it was an approach that gave Whittaker a real shot at winning.

Whittaker likely won that fifth round, but Adesanya controlled the majority of the fight. And the next challenger for Adesanya is set, as he looks forward to defending the title against Jared Cannonier.


A right elbow sent the UFC’s knockout king to the mat, as Tai Tuivasa KO’d Derrick Lewis in the second round in the 271 co-main event.

The victory by Tuivasa (14–3) will cause a significant change to the heavyweight rankings, potentially even taking the No. 3 spot that belonged to the man he just defeated. Lewis (26–9, 1 NC) appeared to have the fight under control, even landing some outrageous blows, but Tuivasa withstood the damage–and came back with offense of his own.

The fight went longer than expected. Tuivasa wisely extended the bout by keeping the action against the fence. Lewis delivered two takedowns in the opening round, and there was a brief explosive exchange where both heavyweights attempted to land the knockout blow. But it was the second-round exchange that marked the definitive moment, as Tuivasa landed a left hook, right hand, and then the vicious right elbow, which caused Lewis to face plant.

This marks Tuivasa’s fifth victory in a row, undoubtedly the most meaningful win of his career.


Jared Cannonier defeated Derek Brunson by TKO, barely surviving a tough opening round before finishing the fight in the second round.

Brunson (23–8) controlled the first round. It even appeared a submission victory was imminent, except that the round ended less than 10 seconds into the attempt.

The pace slowed down considerably in the second round, and Brunson looked like he gassed himself out going for the win in the first round. Cannonier (15–5) landed an elbow and backhand, allowing him to seize control of the fight, and put an emphatic end to Brunson’s five-fight win streak.

Following the fight, Cannonier demanded a title shot. But that will be completed if Robert Whittaker wins the title, as he is just coming off a win against Cannonier and the money fight would be an immediate rematch with Adesanya. If Adesanya wins, however, then Cannonier will be next in line for a title shot.


Renato Moicano stayed true to form, unleashing his rear naked choke in the second round to earn a submission victory against Alexander Hernandez.

Moicano (16-4-1) used his striking to gain the advantage, which gave him the back of Hernandez (13–5). Once that happened, there was no way out for Hernandez. Moicano has now won three of his last four fights, all courtesy of the rear naked choke.

In his post-Octagon interview, Moicano said he wants a big-money fight. He lost to Rafael Fiziev, a ranked opponent, in December of 2020, but he is making a loud case to get in the cage with another top-15 fight.


Bobby Green has been a pro since 2008, and he continues to get better with age.

Green (29–12, 1 NC) landed 163 significant strikes in a unanimous decision victory against Nasrat Haqparast (13-5).

This was a boxing clinic for Green. His straight shots, jabs and combinations all did a number on Haqparast’s face. This marks two wins in a row for Green, who was the crowd favorite in Houston, Texas.

Despite the trash talk from Haqparast, this was never a contest. Green controlled all three rounds, decisively handing Haqparast a second straight loss, the first time in his career that has occurred.

The win puts Green in position for a high-profile bout in his next fight.

Israel Adesanya reacts following his victory against Marvin Vettori during UFC 263.

Israel Adesanya reached a new level of superstardom at UFC 243 in 2019 when he defeated Robert Whittaker to become the undisputed middleweight champion. Whittaker would like nothing more than to give Adesanya a receipt for that loss later tonight at UFC 271, which would allow him to take his place atop the fight world.

Adesanya (21–1) remains undefeated as a middleweight. He dominated his three title defenses after defeating Whittaker (23–5), who has also won his last three fights following the loss to Adesanya. A victory by Whittaker would set up a great trilogy, but Adesanya seeks to avoid that and instead continue running through the division.

The 271 card also features Jared Cannonier against Derek Brunson, which equates to a number-one contender’s match for the middleweight title. Brunson (23–7) lost to Adesanya in 2018, and he would love for his rematch to include a shot at the title. Cannonier (14–5) is among the hardest hitters in the UFC, and he is also hungry for his first crack at the belt.

The co-main event is a heavyweight showcase pitting Derrick Lewis against Tai Tuivasa. Lewis (26–8, 1 NC) is beloved in his home of Houston, Texas, which is where the fight takes place, but Tuivasa (13–3) is also one of UFC’s more popular fighters. This shouldn’t even last a round, so don’t blink when the heavyweights enter the Octagon.

More MMA Coverage:
Israel Adesanya Defends Joe Rogan, Warns Robert Whittaker
Derrick Lewis' Climb Back into Title Contention Starts Where It Ended
Art of the Shoey: Tai Tuivasa Details His Signature Victory Celebration

Justin Barrasso can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.