Tag Archives: Israel Adesanya

UFC 271 main event announced

The UFC have officially announced that the middleweight championship will be defended in the main event of UFC 271 in February.

The organisation officially announced the bout between champion Israel Adesanya and number one contender Robert Whittaker for February 12th during the UFC 269 broadcast.

This will be the second time the two fighters have fought, after Adesanya knocked Whittaker out to win the title at UFC 243 in October 2019.

The fight was originally hoped to take place in New Zealand after their first fight happened in Melbourne, Australia.

However with the COVID pandemic still without an end in sight, the UFC have opted instead to have it take place in Texas at the Toyota Centre.

Adesanya however replied to the official announcement with a cap emoji, which suggests this isn’t a done deal just yet.

It had been reported for a while that this fight would happen at UFC 271, after the original January date was moved back following the decision to book Francis Ngannou vs Ciryl Gane and Brandon Moreno vs Deiveson Figueiredo 3 for the UFC 270 pay-per-view instead.

Adesanya is undefeated at 185-pounds, defending his title three times successfully against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa at UFC 253 and Marvin Vettori at UFC 263. He suffered the first defeat of his career against Jan Blachowicz when he looked to move up to light heavyweight and become a double champion at UFC 259.

Whittaker on the other hand has won three-in-a-row since losing his title to Adesanya, easing to decision victories against Darren Till at UFC Fight Island 3, Jared Cannonier at UFC 254 and then Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Vegas 24.

This fight is between the two undisputed best middleweights in the entire world, with their performances in the division putting them far and away ahead of the rest of the weight class.

Israel Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker 2 moved to UFC 271

The dream of a UFC 270 title double header ended quickly after it was revealed that Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker’s fight has been moved.

It was announced last week that Francis Ngannou would defend his heavyweight title against Ciryl Gane in the main event of UFC 270 in January, which was the card that was expected to host the big rematch between the two top middleweights in the world.

It’s now been revealed however that Adesanya and Whittaker will instead meet at UFC 271 in February following the booking of Ngannou vs Gane.

According to Brazilian outlet Combate, the UFC have moved the middleweight title fight to the following month in order to spread their title fights out a little bit for the new year.

Adesanya’s gym, City Kickboxing, are expecting to essentially relocate to the United States between now and the end of the year due to New Zealand’s quarantine rules, with several fighters desperate to fight but stuck with certain dates.

With the champion planning on moving to the USA he will be more readily available to fight and it seems the UFC are rewarding that by giving him a little extra time to prepare, while Whittaker won’t say no to that either.

The champion has a professional record of 21-1, with middleweight title fight wins over Whittaker, Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori. The only defeat of his career came at UFC 259 earlier this year when he was beaten by light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz as he moved up to try and become a double-champ.

Whittaker is 23-5 professionally but since moving to middleweight in 2014 is 11-1, with his only defeat coming when he lost the title to Adesanya in 2019. Since then he has gone 3-0, beating all of Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum via decision.

UFC 271 is scheduled to take place on February 12th 2022, although a location has yet to be confirmed.

UFC 270 double title main event targeted

The UFC is set to announce a double header of title fights for the opening pay-per-view even of 2022, headlined by a heavyweight title fight.

The heavyweight division has seen a new champion crowned and then an interim title created too in 2021, despite the champion being available but the belts will be unified on January 22nd 2022 when Francis Ngannou looks to defend his title for the first time against former teammate Ciryl Gane.

The event will be co-headlined by another of the company’s African champions, as Israel Adesanya will face off against the man he won the belt against in 2019 Robert Whittaker in a hotly anticipated rematch.

Francis Ngannou started the year in fantastic fashion, avenging a defeat to Stipe Miocic with a brilliant performance at UFC 260 which ended in a vicious second-round knockout.

Ngannou then went on a tour of his homeland with the belt, before looking for a potential date in September to defend his title – ideally against Jon Jones or Derrick Lewis.

However when the UFC insisted on an August date and Ngannou couldn’t do it, they instead pitted Lewis against the undefeated Gane in Texas for an interim title.

Gane picked Lewis apart and eventually secured a brutal knockout in the second-round of their UFC 265 main event to move the Frenchman to 3-0 in 2021 and 7-0 in the UFC.

The two former teammates will go head-to-head in the main event, with French outlet La Sueur reporting that a deal is close to being finalized.

It’s been widely reported also that in the co-main event Adesanya and Whittaker will once again do battle for the 185lbs title, a little over two years on from their first meeting.

Israel Adesanya of Nigeria celebrates after his knockout victory over Robert Whittaker of New Zealand in their UFC middleweight championship fight...

The first time around Adesanya put in a dazzling performance to secure a second-round knockout win over the then undisputed champion. ‘Izzy’ has continued his excellent record at middleweight since, beating all of Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettorri most recently at UFC 263 in the division although he suffered the first and only defeat of his career to Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 when he challenged for the light heavyweight title.

Whittaker has been flawless since the defeat to Adesanya, going 3-0 with wins over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum to secure himself a shot and set up a fight between the two best middleweight fighters in the world today.

UFC 270 will take place on January 22nd 2022, with Las Vegas expected to be the host location although that is not confirmed yet.

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori 2 – Results (Highlights)


Carlos Felipe def Jake Collier via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Good start to the fight from Collier as he uses his speed and volume to land early on Felipe. Felipe starts to walk forward and throws some wild hooks but Collier ducks them and throws a spinning back fist that just misses. Felipe takes the centre and starts working the body, and lands a few left hands too that stumble Collier backwards. Hard leg kicks from Collier as they throw down in the middle for the round to come to an end. 10-9 Felipe.

Second round starts and Felipe comes forward much more aggressive than the opening round, walking Collier down and testing his gas tank. Felipe landing big left hooks to the body and working Collier out, stepping forward and bobbing and weaving before throwing big one-twos. Collier’s leg kicks keep landing but Felipe doesn’t care and keeps going forward. More big punches land and he’s showboating despite a close round. 19-19.

Final round and Felipe is pushing forward again while Collier backs up exhausted. Felipe lands some nice body shots again and then starts going upstairs with some big strikes. Felipe lands a big left hand and Collier is rocked, then gets clocked twice more. Collier shoots for a takedown but Felipe sprawls, then gets up and lands some stiff jabs. Collier keeps checking the clock but Felipe is marching him down and throwing heavy shots in the pocket with 30 seconds to go. Collier lands a nice body shot followed by a kick but Felipe should get the nod. 29-28.

Fares Ziam def Luigi Vendramini via Majority Decision (29-28 x2, 28-28)

Great start to the fight from Ziam as he takes the centre of the cage and immediately starts flicking out the jab, landing flush on the nose of Vendarmini. Vendramini goes for a takedown but Ziam keeps it standing and immediately steps back to get his distance back. Lots of feints from Ziam and the jab is landing perfectly for the whole round. 10-9 Ziam.

Second round starts with more of the same, but this time Vendramini steps forward too and clinches up looking for a takedown. Ziam completely refuses to be taken down though and just pushes him off and starts landing the jab again. Ziam throws a hard leg kick but it gets partially checked and then Vendramini goes in for a deep takedown but Ziam throws him off and carries on striking to control the fight once more. 20-18.

Third round and Vendramini comes out heavy, throwing big bombs and he drops Ziam! He pushes forward and lands big strikes and eventually gets on top with ground and pound. Ziam trying to slow Vendramini down a little but he keeps going and lands some heavy strikes. Big elbows from full mount and he does brilliantly but Ziam stays calm off his back and eventually gets back up to his feet. Vendramini keeps pushing but he can’t get it done and Ziam should take the decision.

Steven Peterson def Chase Hooper via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Strong start from Peterson as he comes flying out of the gate looking for an early knockout and tags Hooper hard with a right hand. Hard pressure from Peterson as he pressure forward, before Hooper looks to pull guard. Peterson throws huge elbows and Hooper looks hurt but he gets back to his feet. Hooper eventually pulls guard and starts fishing for submissions, including a heel hook, but Peterson stays calm and rides it out. 10-9 Peterson.

Peterson steps forward and looks for the early power again but just misses with a big right hand. Hooper looking to bring the fight to the ground again but Peterson doing well to control the range so far and overpowering Hooper as it goes so far. Peterson eventually takes over and controls from the top position, riding out from the top and sees out the round. 20-18.

Peterson steps out strong and lands a big right hand early in the third round. He closes the distance and starts making it ugly, throwing nice kicks and then clinching and dragging Hooper to the ground. He lands a few strikes from the top then goes for a head and arm choke. Hooper denies it and takes the back with 70 seconds to go but he’s not able to get it done and Peterson should take the fight.

Terrance McKinney def Matt Frevola via Knockout, Round 1 (0:07)

McKinney comes out and lands a one-two and Frevola is out!!! OH MY GOD!! TERRANCE MCKINNEY!!!

Pannie Kianzad def Alexis Davis via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

A fun stand up battle in the first round, with both women standing in the pocket and exchanging good strikes. Kianzad standing her ground and landing well with her jab and right cross while Davis is landing her jab well. Both women have cuts but Kianzad is landing the more accurate strikes and takes the round. 10-9 Kianzad.

Second round is more of the same as Kianzad throws that right hand more and more. Both women trading in the pocket but Davis is starting to land cleaner on the nose. Kianzad follows up with some big strikes and the jab landing clean too, but Murphy starting to throw some nice leg kicks too. Pretty even round could go either way, I edge it to Kianzad.

Final round and Davis is landing her jab well and throwing the leg kicks more often too. Kianzad is backing up a lot more than she was in the first but is firing back on Davis’ jab with combinations. Davis’ jab is landing perfectly now on the nose of Kianzad but she’s getting caught with counter straights. Both women strike throughout the 15 minutes and it’s a close call regardless. 29-28 Kianzad for me but could go either way.


Movsar Evloev def Hakeem Dawodu via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

Evloev opens up with a big overhand right that lands, but Dawodu does well to take it. Both men trade a few jabs before Evloev decides he’s had enough of that and goes for the takedown. Dawodu defends it well but eventually Evloev just picks Dawodu up and slams him down on the mat. Evloev then takes Dawodu’s back and looks for rear naked chokes and ground and pound strikes for the remainder. 10-9.

Evloev comes out early on again, ducks a big strike and gets a beautiful takedown immediately. Transitions to the back immediately once again and starts really piling on the pressure. He starts looking for submissions again but Dawodu defending them well, so he switches to ground and pound from Dawodu’s back and is really battering him.

Dawodu and Evloev start a bit slower in this round but Dawodu is able to keep the fight standing early on. Evloev

Lauren Murphy def Joanne Calderwood via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Murphy comes out aggressive and uses her size well, landing well out of the gate. Calderwood starts mixing up her attacks, throwing leg kicks, body kicks, body punches and head strikes well. Murphy stepping forward and using her boxing, then steps in for a clinch. She uses her strength well against the cage and lands a nice knee, but Calderwood throws the spinning back-fist and lands it well. Very close round, I lean 10-9 to Calderwood.

Strong start to the second round from Murphy as she lands the jab well early on and then shoots in for a takedown and gets it brilliantly! Murphy ties up both legs and gets wrist control, keeping Calderwood on her side with one arm to defend and starts throwing some nice ground and pound. Murphy dominates the entire round on top and could potentially have it as a 10-8. Super close fight.

Murphy comes out with a hard punch but misses and Calderwood starts picking her off from range once again using her kicks and striking again. Murphy starting to look for takedowns again but Calderwood defending them well and landing decent strikes from distance. Murphy keeps coming though and they end the round in a straight scrap. Great fight, very close.

Eryk Anders def Darren Stewart via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-27)

Slow start to this one from both guys as Stewart takes the centre but lots of feints and hesitation from both guys. Anders throws a left straight that misses and then they go against the cage, with Stewart tying him up in a clinch to a stalemate. Stewart lands a big knee to the body and then changes levels and gets a nice trip to get top position on the ground. Stewart maintains wrist control and holds the position until the end of the round. Not the best round. 10-9 Stewart.

Second round and it’s much more of the same from both guys. Anders misses a left hand and the two clinch up against the cage for about two minutes before the referee steps in and separates them. Anders goes for a takedown but Stewart defends it well and they end up back in the same position. Anders trying to up the pressure but Stewart defending well and the round ends. 19-19 maybe?

Final round and Stewart comes out light on his feet with a couple of leg kicks before changing levels and securing a takedown on Anders. Anders manages to switch the position and ends up on top almost immediately though and finds himself in side control. Anders starts throwing some ground and pound and controlling the position well. Big ground and pound shots hurt Stewart as he tries to get up against the side of the cage but he survives until the buzzer. 29-28 Anders for me but all lays on that second round.

Brad Riddell def Drew Dober via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Very quick start to this one from Riddell as he opens with a big left hand followed by a leg kick that rattles Dober’s balance. Both men swing some big hooks that just miss and then Dober lands a stiff jab and a left straight right behind it that drops him! Dober looks for a finish but Riddell shoots and stalls for long enough on the legs to recover. Riddell lands a huge right hand that sees him step backwards, then lands it flush over and over as the round ends. Great round, 10-9 either way.

Second round and Riddell is looking for that right hand early once again. Dober eats a couple but then fires back with some big straights and lands flush on the nose! Riddell shoots for a takedown to recover but Dober sprawls and steps away. Riddell lands a big right hand again and then Dober shoots in for a takedown but they scramble to a stalemate. Riddell lands a few big shots and Dober replies as the round ends. What a fight. This scorecard could be anything.

Final round and Riddell lands a huge right hand early on that rocks Dober. Riddell lands a couple more heavy strikes but Dober steps away and recovers. Some big body kicks by Riddell force Dober to look for a takedown but Riddell defends it perfectly. Riddell lands a huge right hand that staggers Dober with 30 seconds to go and he goes in for the finish! Big ground and pound as Dober dives in for a takedown. Riddell sweeps him and ends the round on top raining down punches. What a fight!


Paul Craig def Jamahal Hill via Knockout, Round 1 (1:59)

Slow start for Hill as he takes the centre before Craig grabs hold of him and pulls guard early on. Craig has an overhook on the arm while he’s on his back and he’s torquing on it badly. Craig rolls through and snaps Hill’s arm but the referee doesn’t wave it off! Craig goes for elbows to the head of a defenceless Hill and the referee finally steps in to end it. What a performance.


Belal Muhammad def Demian Maia via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Interesting start to the round as Muhammad looks to take the centre of the octagon but stay out of range of Maia’s takedown attempts. Maia shoots in for a takedown and gets the single leg but Muhammad gets himself against the cage and defends it brilliantly for around one minute before escaping. Maia goes in for three more takedown shots during the rest of the round but Muhammad defends them all perfectly, but will likely lose the round. 10-9 Maia.

Second round and Muhammad is closing the distance better and landing some nice jabs on the feet. He’s gained confidence from stopping all the takedowns in the first and is stepping forward, landing his right hand cleaner as Maia starts to tire. Nice jabs and he defends another takedown to see out the round. 19-19.

Maia starts the final round with another single leg takedown attempt but Muhammad denies him once again and then staggers him with a nice right hand. Maia continues to look for a single leg takedown but Muhammad just denies it once more and lands a few jabs to seal the round for himself.

Leon Edwards def Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)

Slow start to the fight from both guys as they both feel each other out early on. Edwards throws some hard leg kicks that land while Diaz starts showboating and teasing his opponent. Edwards closes the distance and they clinch up, before he dumps Diaz down and transitions to his back to threaten a submission. Diaz defends the position and they see out the round squaring off on the feet. 10-9 Edwards.

Second round and Edwards staying composed, pushing a good pace landing some leg kicks. Diaz playing some mind games but Edwards clinches up and gets him down again. Edwards controlling Diaz totally and landing elbows and strikes at will so far. Dominant round, 20-18.

Edwards dominant again during the third as he steps forward and lands the jab well. Edwards gets another takedown from the clinch and starts to control from the top. Huge elbow gets through and opens up a big cut, then he starts looking for the finish but Diaz survives it. 30-27.

Fourth round and Edwards is just too big and strong at this point. Hard leg kicks have forced Diaz to switch stances but Edwards pouring on the pressure. Diaz is tiring and getting caught with big wild hooks as Edwards starts going for the finish. Diaz tries to come forward with strikes of his own but he’s not hitting many. 40-36 Edwards.

Final round and it’s more of the same. Edwards closing the distance and landing hard leg kicks with elbows following in behind. Diaz is getting hit but still standing and still coming forward. Diaz throws a Stockton slap and follows with a left hand that wobbles Edwards! Diaz points instead of going for the kill, then steps in and starts swinging wildly. Edwards survives, just, and takes the win.

Brandon Moreno def Deiveson Figueiredo via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (2:26)

Tense start to the fight from Figueiredo as Moreno steps in nice and sharp with jabs and a heavy leg kick. Moreno is stiffing the jab right down Figueiredo’s throat, not allowing him to close the distance. Lots of hard jabs and Figueiredo struggling to get going so far. Moreno lands a big left hook that drops Figueiredo! He goes for the kill but Figueiredo stalls on the ground for long enough and the buzzer goes. 10-9 Moreno.

Second round and Figueiredo comes out harder than the first and just misses with a huge hook. Moreno transitions with some good strikes and then takes the back of Figueiredo. Figueiredo manages to turn to his back but the rest of the round is spent with Moreno on top dominating. 20-18.

Third round and Figueiredo still looks gun shy still. Moreno steps forward again and manages to secure a trip to put the fight on the ground. Moreno quickly transitions to the back, gets both hooks in and then locks in a body triangle. Figueiredo starts fighting the hands as Moreno moves to sink in a rear-naked choke. He switches grips, tightens it and Figueiredo taps! NEW CHAMPION!!

Israel Adesanya def Marvin Vettori via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)

Lots of nervous energy at the start of this fight. Low kicks from Adesanya and one immediately gets caught by Vettori who takes him down. Adesanya backs himself up against the cage and gets back to the feet very quickly. Adesanya presses the action and starts landing some big low kicks again, before defending another takedown attempt. Nice strikes and some good kicks. 10-9 Izzy.

Second round and Adesanya is very confident now. Still throwing lots of kicks and damaging the legs of Vettori and not being hesitant. Vettori steps forward but can’t get close enough and the kicks are really adding up now. Adesanya dominating on the feet, 20-18.

Third round and Vettori charges across the octagon and gets a big takedown. He transitions to the back and goes for the rear naked choke, and almost locks it up but Adesanya is able to spin into his guard and lands a nice elbow. He stands back up and spends the rest of the round piecing Vettori up with the leg attacks and right uppercut.

Fourth round and it’s more of the same from Adesanya, who is staying at distance and just completely dominant. Plenty of leg kicks again and some big right hands landing, while Vettori looks for a double jab into a takedown. Adesanya denies everything and keeps landing. Easy work so far. 40-36.

Final round and Vettori wants the takedown but he can’t get it. Adesanya is too strong and quick, landing heavy leg kicks and still looking for the uppercut. Vettori pushing for the takedown again but just stalling against the cage as Adesanya holds him up and denies it. Lots of tussling but more stalling and eventually they separate. Adesanya lands a head kick and some more right hands and this one is over. 50-45 Izzy, dominant performance.

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori 2 – Main card predictions

Another blockbuster pay-per-view card is upon us as UFC 263 finally lands on our TV screens from Arizona as Israel Adesanya returns to the octagon to defend his middleweight championship against Marvin Vettori.

It’s a highly anticipated rematch at 185lbs after the two previously met in 2018, with Adesanya getting the nod in a split decision. But after defeat last time out at light heavyweight, Vettori now has the blueprint to victory and will look to execute it to become the new champion.

In the co-main event the flyweight title will be on the line as Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Brandon Moreno in their rematch from UFC 256. After the first fight ended in a draw, Figueiredo will be targeting an early finish in this one to put a stamp on his title reign.

We also have a historic fight on the main card, as Leon Edwards gets a chance to become a household name against Nate Diaz in the first ever non-title, five-round bout not headlining the card.

Last week at UFC Vegas 28 we went 7/11 with three perfect picks to move to 328/516 (63.57%) with 142 perfect picks (43.29%).

We’ll look to improve on that with these 14 fights, and after predicting the early prelims here and the rest of the prelims here, here are our main card picks.

Paul Craig (14-4-1) vs Jamahal Hill (8-0 1NC) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

An intriguing 205lbs bout between submission specialist Paul Craig and power puncher Jamahal Hill. Craig has won his last two in a row, submitting Gadzhimurad Antigulov at UFC Fight Island 3 before KO’ing Shogun Rua at UFC 255. Hill got a big knockout win over Ovince Saint-Preux at UFC 255 last time out to remain unbeaten.

This is a real style vs style fight, as Craig is a horrible striker with brilliant jiu-jitsu skills from his back while Hill is a man who can probably knock out anyone in the division right now. He’s got brilliant range, uses kicks, punches and pressure and his power holds up late on too and unless Craig pulls off something sneaky, this one just seems too much for him to overcome.
PICK – Jamahal Hill via Knockout, Round 2

Demian Maia (28-10) vs Belal Muhammad (18-3 1NC) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A passing of the guard at welterweight is on the cards here as 43-year-old Demian Maia takes on ‘Remember The Name’ Belal Muhammad. Maia got knocked out by Gilbert Burns in his last fight, while Muhammad got a win over Dhiego Lima at UFC 258 before his fight with Leon Edwards ended in a no-contest after an eye poke.

Maia is one of the greatest jiu-jitsu practitioners in UFC history, with 50% of his career wins coming via submission. Muhammad is a volume striker, who can mix in some good wrestling too to rack up top control for victories too. If he’s to win this one though, he will look to keep it on the feet. Muhammad’s pace is great and his striking is miles ahead of Maia’s, but the Brazilian’s chances of winning lie strictly on the mat. If he can’t get him there, which I don’t think he can, he has no hope barring a lucky punch.

Muhammad will push the pace, land volume and come away with the biggest win of his career to date.
PICK – Belal Muhammad via Decision

Leon Edwards (18-3 1NC) vs Nate Diaz (21-12) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An absolute banger at welterweight as the number three ranked 170lber Edwards takes on the most popular man in MMA not named Conor McGregor in Nate Diaz. Edwards has won eight in a row, but his last bout ended in controversy with an eye-poke against Belal Muhammad ending in a no contest. Diaz on the other hand has lost two of his last three, but those fights in 2016 and 2019.

Edwards is a brilliant fighter capable of doing absolutely everything in MMA, with brilliant striking, wrestling and submissions in his arsenal. Diaz is a brilliant boxer with world class jiu-jitsu, but he is way past his prime at this point. Edwards is the better striker and better wrestler and while Diaz is absolutely crazily durable, he gets hit A LOT. Edwards throws lots of leg kicks too which Diaz will hate and with the fight almost certain to stay on the feet, it’s Edwards’ to lose.

A win here finally earns him a title shot while Diaz earns a lot of money and puts in warrior-like performances to maintain his popularity. Edwards is too good though and I expect at least one 10-8 round in his favour.
PICK – Leon Edwards via Decision

Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) vs Brandon Moreno (18-5-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A flyweight title fight rematch here as ‘Deus de Guerra’ defends his 125lbs crown against Brandon Moreno once again. Figueiredo had a magnificent 2020, defeating Joseph Benavidez twice including at UFC Fight Island 2 to win the belt. He then defended it against Alex Perez at UFC 255 winning by first-round submission before the draw with Moreno at UFC 256. Moreno also had a great year, beating Jussier Formiga before knocking out Brandon Royval at UFC 255 before the draw.

Figueiredo is the scariest flyweight ever, with ridiculous power and tremendous jiu-jitsu, winning 17 of his fights by stoppage with them all coming in the first two rounds. Moreno is a pressure fighter with great striking and brilliant wrestling but the first fight told us a lot. Figueiredo won that first fight without the points deduction that happened and it’s hard to see this going any other way. Fig will push forward and pick his shots more and with Moreno confident he’ll be coming forward too.

Ultimately, Figueiredo showed he can win over five rounds and if it doesn’t go the distance then there’s only one guy finishing this fight so it’s an #andStill moment for me.
PICK – Deiveson Figueiredo via Knockout, Round 2

Israel Adesanya (20-1) vs Marvin Vettori (17-4-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The return of the ‘Last Style Bender’ following the first defeat of his career to the middleweight division as he takes on old foe Marvin Vettori for the 185lbs title. Adesanya beat Paulo Costa in his last fight at middleweight before defeat last time out at UFC 259 to Jan Blachowicz at light heavyweight. Vettori has won his last five-in-a-row including main events against Jack Hermansson and Kevin Holland.

Adesanya is arguably the best pure striker in mixed martial arts today, with brilliant power in his hands and legs and an ability to shift angles and knock people out. He’s fast, mobile and incredibly intelligent but the hole in his game is his grappling. That’s where Vettori excels, with great wrestling and an ability to take people down and control them from top position. He’s a decent striker in his own right too, but he uses that to close the distance for takedowns.

Their first fight saw Adesanya able to get back to his feet but I think Vettori has got much better in that space of time when it comes to controlling opponents on the ground. It really is a fight of two styles and while Adesanya is the heavy favourite, there is something telling me that because the blueprint is there he may need to figure something new out to get back in the win column.

The cloak of invincibility is gone and I think there could be an upset on our hands here.
PICK – Marvin Vettori via Decision

Marvin Vettori has the blueprint to beat Israel Adesanya at UFC 263

Cast your mind back to before UFC 259 in March 2021, when Israel Adesanya was on mission to become a dual-weight simultaneous world champion.

He was up against Jan Blachowicz in the light heavyweight division, having ruled over the middleweight division since his debut in February 2018 and as champion in October 2019.

But what he came up against was not only the legendary Polish Power of the 205lbs champion but also the excellent wrestling and grappling of a man bigger and stronger than him.

Fast forward a few months down the line and the man in line for the next title shot at Adesanya’s original weight class is a man who he’s fought before.

Marvin Vettori and Adesanya first met in April 2018 in the champions second fight with the organisation. It was a close fight that many saw Adesanya winning 29-28 on the scorecards, but one judge saw it differently. Officially the bout went down as a split decision win for Adesanya, but Vettori has held on to that lone wolf judge’s decision ever since.

As three years have passed both men have got better and better, with Vettori yet to lose since. He now comes into the fight against a puzzle that has finally been solved.

Adesanya went into the fight against Blachowicz with many expecting him to be too mobile and too fast and to use his incredible striking to get a knockout win. But as the fight went on and Blachowicz wouldn’t go away, those chances got slimmer and slimmer. Then the wrestling started and it was one-sided.

For Vettori, that is the dream. His stand-up isn’t world class like Adesanya’s but it’s not awful and if he is able to close the distance and get hold of the champion then he will feel he can get the takedown to implement his style of fighting.

Vettori was able to take down Karl Roberson and choke him out with ease back at UFC Vegas 2, then out-grappled a grappler in Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 16 before dominating a striker on the ground in Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 23 in April.

Having fought each other before, they will both know the power and strength the other possesses and while Vettori did get Adesanya down in their first fight the Nigerian was able to get back to his feet eventually.

But after watching how Blachowicz dominated in March, Vettori will surely look to employ similar tactics. He will be more patient on the ground rather than rushing for a finish and while Adesanya is always dangerous on the feet, he never hurt Vettori in their first bout.

The aura of invincibility around Adesanya was gone as soon as Blachowicz took him down the first time in their fight. Now, it’s a chink in the armour of a phenomenal fighter and his next opponent is someone who can exploit it perfectly.

The blueprint is there and Vettori has all the tools to make it happen. No excuses, no complaints. The time is now, or he must forever hold his tongue in a conversation with ‘The Last Stylebender’.

Israel Adesanya vs Marvin Vettori 2 set for UFC 263

Israel Adesanya will return to the middleweight division this summer to defend his 185lbs title in a rematch against Marvin Vettori at UFC 263.

Adesanya suffered the first taste of defeat in his professional career last time out, moving up to light heavyweight to fight Jan Blachowicz in a bid to become a simultaneous champion. He found the step up too tough though as the legendary Polish power was able to stifle him and use his size to nullify him on the mat for a unanimous decision win.

Vettori has found himself on a five-fight win streak beating Karl Roberson via submission and then smashing through Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 16 and Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 23 in unanimous decision wins most recently to put himself in the conversation for this bout.

The two will go head to head in a rematch from 2018, where Adesanya claimed victory in a split-decision bout that Vettori was grossly unhappy about.

The Italian protested the decision in the cage and hasn’t lost a fight since, while forever maintaining that he felt he won the first fight and is better than Adesanya. ‘The Last Stylebender’ would go on to beat Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson, Anderson Silva, Kelvin Gastelum, Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa at UFC 253 after the first bout to be recognised as one of the best middleweights ever.

It was expected that Robert Whittaker would get the first rematch against Adesanya after defeating Darren Till on Fight Island, Jared Cannonier at UFC 254 and Gastelum at UFC Vegas 24 in convincing fashion and then called the Nigerian-born New Zealander out for a bout in September.

According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani and UFC president Dana White, the organisation did offer Whittaker the fight first but the timings didn’t quite work out. Whittaker must quarantine for two weeks before he is able to go back to his family, and with the date being just eight weeks away he deemed it too short.

Adesanya was reportedly adamant about fighting in June to make amends for his March defeat at UFC 259 and thus Vettori was offered the fight instead. White has confirmed that Whittaker will get the next title shot as he is recognised as the number one contender and this would’ve been his fight had he been available.

UFC 263 already has another title fight scheduled for the card, with flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo defending his title against Brandon Moreno in a rematch from their draw in December at UFC 256 in what was one of the best fights of the year.

Figueiredo had some injuries that he needed to heal up after making a three-week turnaround for that fight, but both fighters are now ready to go and will co-headline the card in a double header.

UFC Vegas 24 Fallout: Whittaker proves he’s the best of the rest

Robert Whittaker confirmed his status as the number one contender and best of the rest in the middleweight division with a dominant win over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Vegas 24.

‘The Reaper’ controlled the fight throughout landing 150 significant strikes and four takedowns in the 25 minutes, to waltz to a 50-45 unanimous decision win across the board.

It marked three wins in a row for Bobby Knuckles, who’s only defeat in the middleweight division thus far has come against the current champion Israel Adesanya when he lost the title in 2019.

But the version of Whittaker we have seen since that bout against The Last Stylebender is arguably the best one, with three dominant decision wins in which he’s taken minimal damage and managed to nullify three top ten contenders in succession.

He looks light on his feet, sharp in the striking, is mixing his game up tremendously and most importantly avoiding damage. Prior to his fight with Jared Cannonier at UFC 254, Whittaker had been knocked down five times in three fights and was getting himself into wars.

He was burnt out and needed a break, so after losing his title he did just that. While he got caught with a flush elbow from Till in his return, that can happen against a world class striker that. But he came back and dominated the fight for the most part to win comfortably, then completely strolled through the Cannonier and Gastelum fights.

After the bout he made it clear that he does want a rematch with Adesanya for the title, and called on the UFC to make it happen in a sold-out stadium in Australia in September time. Speaking in his post-fight press conference, Whittaker said directly to Adesanya;

I think we should talk mate, I think it’s about time we crossed paths once again and I think we can get a sold out stadium, they might even open up the borders for Australia in September. Lets make that happen, lets see if we can get a stadium back home.”

Adesanya tweeted out after Whittaker’s impressive win “good job my son” in response, and Whittaker admitted he’s entitled to trash talk after winning the first fight between them. He did say however that he believes he’s got the tools to win a rematch.

I’m going to work hard. I think I’ve got some tricks he hasn’t seen yet and I’ll give him a good run I think.”

The win means that Marvin Vettori is likely to need to wait for his title shot, meaning he will likely take another fight in the mean time. Vettori was rallying for a shot after beating Kevin Holland in the main event at UFC Vegas 23.

The Italian was at cageside for the UFC Vegas 24 main event and afterwards admitted that he feels he’d give Whittaker trouble with his pressure style, but that fight is unlikely to happen with Adesanya’s response essentially accepting that a rematch between himself and Whittaker is inevitable.

Vettori could fight Derek Brunson next, who also beat Kevin Holland just last month to move into the top five of the rankings. That fight could happen around the same time as Adesanya-Whittaker 2 or even on the same card in case someone was to drop out, or would set up the next contender immediately.

Kelvin Gastelum to try and run it back to his prime at UFC Vegas 24

The youngest man ever to win The Ultimate Fighter, Kelvin Gastelum’s career has seen highs and lows over the last eight years.

He won the competition as a middleweight, then moved down to welterweight immediately. He struggled to make the weight, missing by as much as 10lbs before his defeat to Tyron Woodley and then being forced to move back up.

When he moved back up he stopped Tim Kennedy, Victor Belfort (overturned to a NC) and Michael Bisping before beating Jacare Souza too to set himself up a title fight with Robert Whittaker.

When that fight fell through because of Whittaker being in need of emergency surgery on fight night, Whittaker was installed in an interim title fight against Israel Adesanya – who got bumped up to the main event spot at UFC 234 in Whittaker and Gastelum’s absence.

That fight would go down as one of the greatest in middleweight history, with The Last Stylebender and Gastelum going through an incredible 25 minute war. The fight ended in defeat, with a stoppage loss only saved by the end of the final round.

His stock wasn’t harmed by the defeat though, because it was well accepted that Adesanya was and is just that good.

That defeat caused a bit of a spiral though as he failed to build on that momentum in his next fight against Darren Till, failing to really pull the trigger and losing a split decision at UFC 244. Till was making his debut in the division and was expected to make waves, so the defeat was once again not looked on too poorly.

But then he fought Jack Hermansson at UFC Fight Island 2 and got embarrassed. After just 78 seconds, ‘Joker’ locked up a heel hook and forced Gastelum to submit for only the second time in his professional career.

After working so hard to build up to a title fight, he lost all the momentum behind him in three fights without ever getting the undisputed title shot he was scheduled for.

He finally got back on the winning trail at UFC 258 with a dominant decision win over Ian Heinisch and then proceeded to say he was ready for any call up should one of the upcoming middleweight bouts fall out.

In the end they both did, but it was Paulo Costa who withdrew first and Gastelum was quick to throw his name in the hat to finally get that bout against Whittaker from two years previous.

Whittaker is flying and back in the run of things after his own defeat to Adesanya, but this bout is now more about Gastelum’s redemption than Whittaker’s.

The Aussie has cemented his contender status with wins over Till and Jared Cannonier and is already established as #1 in the rankings. Gastelum though needs this win to be talked about in a positive way once again.

Defeat puts him back to where he was before the Heinisch win, clawing his way back into the positives against lower-ranked opposition and just as an after-thought in the title picture. A win though, and he’s right amongst the conversation.

While it shouldn’t be enough to outright earn him a title fight against Adesanya considering the run Marvin Vettori is on at the moment, it would likely set him up for another big contender fight which would likely see him get said shot with a win.

He needs to find the form of his prime run in the middleweight division where he won four of five with powerful striking, good ground game and cardio that could go the distance. He has the skillset and mentality, but he’s always fallen just short against the very top guys and that must change at UFC Vegas 24.

Why the only fight to make for the middleweight title is Adesanya vs Whittaker 2

The middleweight division is as hot as it’s been in several years right now and yet barring a huge shock at UFC Vegas 24, there is still only one fight to make for the championship.

Robert Whittaker has lost just once since 2014, against Israel Adesanya in a bout that saw him lose the 185lbs title of the world back in October 2019.

In that fight he was the underdog going in and was impressively knocked out in the second round, with many people believing that could be the end of his career at the top.

He had been suffering with burnout from non-stop fighting for years, to the point where before his fight with Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 he was forced to withdraw just hours before the event with a hernia and a twisted and collapsed bowel which needed emergency surgery.

After losing to Adesanya, Whittaker took ten months off from the sport. He withdrew from a bout against Jared Cannonier and instead just opted to spend time with his family and really heal up. He returned in July on Fight Island to take on the division’s newest contender Darren Till.

He completely nullified the Brit and despite being knocked down in the first round, he eased to a dominant decision win in his first fight back without the belt around his waist.

He followed that up by finally taking the fight against Cannonier, with both fighters believing that a win would see them named as the next contender to Adesanya’s crown. The champion had publicly admitted that Cannonier would get the next shot with a win, so when Whittaker comfortably despatched of him via a unanimous decision too he was expected to get his rematch.

Instead of that rematch though, Adesanya opted to attempt to become a double champion by moving up to light heavyweight to fight Jan Blachowicz. He made the move but got comfortably beaten by the legendary Polish power and now must come back down to 185lbs to show everyone he can still reign supreme in his natural weight class.

Awaiting him is a plethora of candidates looking to take his crown. Darren Till is still a win away from a title shot in the champion’s eyes, but a broken collar bone is likely to rule him out of the next fight. Marvin Vettori is now on a five-fight win streak after his win over Kevin Holland, but Adesanya doesn’t seem to have much interest in fighting the Italian.

You can maybe argue that Vettori is worth the shot first since his defeat came back in 2016 and both he and Adesanya have improved exponentially since then, but the only fight we want now is Adesanya and Whittaker.

This weekend ‘The Reaper’ takes on Gastelum in a fight he didn’t need to take. He’s said several times now that he’s not concerned with chasing his loss to Adesanya, it’s more about getting the title back.

A win against Gastelum would mean he’s followed up consecutive top five opponents with a short-notice replacement who is considered to be one of the more dangerous fighters in the division. He will have earned the bout and he will undoubtedly be a bigger draw than Vettori, which will entice Adesanya more.

Should he lose, it will only strengthen Vettori’s case but it may just mean that we don’t see Adesanya for a while. But watching his last two performances, he has been stellar. He looks sharp, quick, powerful, agile and arguably better than ever before.

The rematch between the two best welterweights in the world is what the fans and the division needs, Whittaker just needs to do his job at UFC Vegas 24 and keep winning.