MMA Ratings Podcast

October 3, 2019

UFC 243: Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker Could Be Best Middleweight Title Fight of All Time

By Adam Martin

The undisputed UFC middleweight championship of the world will be on the line this Saturday night in the main event of UFC 243. In one corner is UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker, the Australian superstar and former Ultimate Fighter winner. In the other corner is UFC Interim Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya, the undefeated phenom from New Zealand. It's the biggest fight in Oceanic MMA history between the two best fighters from the region, and if the fight lives up to expectations, it has the potential to be the best middleweight title fight of all time.

Let's start with Whittaker, the champ. Whittaker's progression from TUF champ to middling welterweight to middleweight contender to UFC champion has been unbelievable, and very much unexpected. "The Reaper" started his MMA career at age 19 in Australia, and quickly racked up a 9-2 record fighting on the country's regional circuit. The UFC matchmakers took notice of him and signed him to compete on TUF: The Smashes. At age 22, Whittaker won the show with a decision win over Brad Scott and then knocked out Colton Smith in his next fight. He was looking like a very promising welterweight prospect.

But then the struggles began. First Whittaker lost a split decision to Court McGee and then he was knocked out by Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson. He complained about a horrible weight cut, saying he cut so much weight that he lost his hearing, but despite that, Whittaker fought once more at welterweight, winning a decision over Mike Rhodes. But then he made the decision to move up in weight, a move that was questioned at the time. After all, at the time, it was big grapplers like Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold who were dominating the middleweight division. But it turned out that Whittaker made the right call, and he hasn't looked back since.

Whittaker started off his middleweight run with a TKO win over Clint Hester. He followed it up with a knockout win over Brad Tavares and decision wins over Uriah Hall and Rafael Natal. The win streak earned Whittaker his first UFC main event, and he faced Derek Brunson, knocking him out in a wild fight. The UFC then booked Whittaker against Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, and he knocked him out for the biggest win of his career up to that point. That earned Whittaker an interim title fight with Yoel Romero, and he edged out a decision to win the belt. And when Georges St. Pierre retired, the UFC removed the "interim" label from his title. Whittaker then beat Romero in the pair's rematch to improve his middleweight record to a perfect 8-0. It's been an unreal run for Whittaker at 185 lbs.

But this weekend Whittaker takes on arguably the toughest opponent he's had to date when he fights Adesanya, whose rise to stardom in the UFC is nearly unparalleled. A kickboxer by trade, Adesanya began fighting MMA in 2012 and quickly racked up an 11-0 record on the Australia and China regional scene. The UFC was impressed with Adesanya and decided to sign him in February of 2018. The results ever since then have been nothing short of phenomenal.

In his UFC debut, Adesanya finished Rob Wilkinson and then he followed it up with a decision win over Marvin Vettori. The UFC liked what they saw from him and then booked him against Brad Tavares and Derek Brunson, who he beat to cap off an incredible 4-0 mark inside the Octagon in 2018 alone. Adesanya was next booked him against the legend Anderson Silva, and beat Silva in a "passing of the torch" fight, and then earned an interim title fight against Kelvin Gastelum. It was an amazing fight, and with the victory, Adesanya proved he was an elite talent. Now he gets the chance to level up from the interim to undisputed champion this weekend against Whittaker.

This is going to be an amazing fight. It's not often that you have two young studs in their prime going at it for the world championship, but that's what we have in store this weekend. Robert Whittaker has proven to be an excellent champion, and Israel Adesanya has shown he deserves to be called the top contender. They are both strikers who can go a full hard five rounds and they will be fighting for not just the undisputed belt, but also to be crowned the top fighter in Oceanic MMA history. UFC 243's main event between Adesanya and Whittaker has the potential to be one of the greatest fights of all time, and considering how evenly matched both men are, don't be surprised if this fight goes down to the wire. Enjoy it, MMA fans.

UFC 243
Robert Whittaker vs. Israel Adesanya (UFC Middleweight Championship)

UFC 243: Whittaker vs. Adesanya takes place October 5, 2019 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.

Click HERE for more UFC 243 Pre-Fight Analysis

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