Adesanya will look to continue his dominant reign atop the 185-pound mountain when he runs it back with Whittaker. The pair first met at UFC 243 in 2019. With a second-round finish, “The Last Stylebender” secured his place on the throne.
Since that fight, both men have been in fine form. The champion has successfully defended his belt against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, and Marvin Vettori. Despite falling to his first loss in professional MMA when he attempted to challenge for Jan Blachowicz‘s light heavyweight title last March, Adesanya has remained unbeaten at middleweight.
Whittaker, meanwhile, has rebounded from his championship defeat with two main event triumphs against Darren Till and Kelvin Gastelum plus a pay-per-view co-main victory over top-five contender Jared Cannonier.
The pair will now share the Octagon for the second time inside Houston’s Toyota Center on February 12.
Adesanya Targets “Devastating” Finish
The consensus for the clash appears to be split. While some look at Adesanya’s 2019 victory over Whittaker and expect a similar level of dominance, others have pointed to the former titleholder’s form and fight IQ and suggested he’ll be bringing a much tougher test to the champ this time around.
While some fighters may fall victim to complacency when facing an opponent they’ve already comfortably had their hand raised against, Adesanya is not worried about that.
During a recent interview with Chisanga Malata, “The Last Stylebender” suggested his desire to finish the rematch in an even more devastating way is what motivates him ahead of 2022’s second pay-per-view card.
“That’s not been the case this time (complacency after UFC 243 win),” said Adesanya. “It’s actually made me more motivated to do it again and do it more decisively, if that’s even possible, which it is. That’s what my motivation is for this fight, that’s what got me up for this fight, was to do it again, and (in a) more devastating fashion.”
According to Whittaker, Adesanya’s latest defense against Vettori proved he was beatable at middleweight. The New Zealand-born Australian will hope to prove that to be the case when his chance for redemption arrives next weekend.
Who do you think will leave UFC 271 with the middleweight gold, Israel Adesanya or Robert Whittaker?