UFC 243 featured the return of Robert Whittaker against the man that pretty much has stolen the thunder in the middleweight division in Israel Adesanya. While Whittaker has been dominant in his own right, he has not been as busy as the man that would eventually become the undisputed middleweight champion. Adesanya stole the show with his win, but there’s more to take away from UFC 243 than a new champ.
Knuckles & Guts
Whittaker is dangerous in the cage, but his tenure as champion had been riddled with injury. Leading up to this event, the injury bug already took Holly Holm off the card and fingers were crossed right up until fight night that the main event would stick. After the fight, Whittaker told media that while he did lose, he feels fortunate to have walked away with no injuries.
Squeaky Wheel Gets The Hype
Adesanya made note that Whittaker’s time off may have hurt the marketing of the UFC’s return to Australia. When adding that along with how busy he has been fighting his way to earning the title shot against Whittaker, it is hard to argue against the challenger/champion. Racking up wins along with the right amount of exposure makes for some well-deserved hype.
Don’t be Scurr’d Aussie Refs
The groin shots in the Khalid Taha vs. Bruno Gustavo fight seemed to set the pace for what referees in Melbourne would allow and not allow. There was also an odd stoppage when Je Yeon Kim was about to put Nadia Kassem away when Kassem’s mouthpiece fell out and the referee stopped Kim mid-combo to get the mouthpiece back in. Even Daniel Cormier, who was calling the fights with Jon Anik, commented that there would’ve been a better time for a break in action.
They Love MMA Down Under
Over 57,000 in attendance makes UFC 243 the largest attendance for a UFC event. This was verified during the post-fight press conference that the crowd in Melbourne helped make that happen. While the heydays of Pride Fighting Championships may have numbers surpassing that, for the sport of MMA and the rough road it’s had, it is nice to see that more fans are getting interested in MMA. The UFC still has roots in Melbourne after this event.
Dan Hooker Wins, Calls Out Dustin Poirier
Hooker pretty much won all rounds against Al Iaquinta, and while UFC 243 seemed to showcase the heavier divisions, lightweights still find a way to make fans think about exciting fights to look forward to. Hooker called out Poirier after his win over Iaquinta and while Khabib Nurmagomedov has a destiny with Tony Ferguson, the options after or as an alternative are still nice in the lightweight division.
We’re Doing Walkouts Now?
Adesanya’s entrance was either fantastic or awful depending on how the fight went. Fans seemed split on whether it was good or bad but after the near finish of Whittaker in the first round, followed by the eventual finish in round two, the middleweight world is Adesanya’s oyster and he can pretty much do what he wants.
So What’s Next?
It was hard not to notice the number two ranked middleweight sitting ringside after Adesanya won. While Paulo Costa has next according to the rankings, by now it is given rankings do not hold the weight they used to. A rematch with Whittaker is an option and the social media beef between Jon Jones and Adesanya would certainly be something more likely for the UFC to book.
That might be something to look forward to.