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UFC 271: Adesanya vs Whittaker 2 - Feb 12 🇺🇸


wandshogun09
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Posted (edited)

We’re heading to Houston for this one. The big rematch.

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PPV MAIN CARD
Israel Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker - Middleweight Title

Derrick Lewis vs Tai Tuivasa

Jared Cannonier vs Derek Brunson 

Alexander Hernandez vs Renato Moicano

Nasrat Haqparast vs Bobby Green  

ESPN PRELIMS
Andrei Arlovski vs Jared Vanderaa

Roxanne Modafferi vs Casey O’Neill

Kyler Phillips vs Marcelo Rojo

Carlos Ulberg vs Fabio Cherant

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Ronnie Lawrence vs Mana Martinez

Jacob Malkoun vs AJ Dobson

Douglas Silva De Andrade vs Sergey Morozov

Jeremiah Wells vs Mike Mathetha 

William Knight vs Maxim Grishin

 

Not the final bout order and I don’t even think this is the complete card. Feels like something is missing from that main card and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another title fight added yet. It could certainly do with beefing up a little bit. Something like Sterling vs Yan 2 wouldn’t go amiss. If something like that is gonna be added though, it needs to be announced soon with the card only about 6 weeks away.

 

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Israel Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker 2 then. Finally. Seems like this one’s been brewing forever, doesn’t it? The first fight was only two and a bit years ago. Don’t know about anyone else but it feels longer to me. Then again, a lot’s happened in that 27 months. COVID wasn’t even a thing back then. The world’s a different place now. And even just in MMA, these two have had a busy couple of years.

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Going into that first fight, Whittaker had risen up the ranks relatively quickly. Well, after a few hiccups early on in his UFC career. He’d won ‘The Smashes’ season of TUF at the end of 2012 as a Welterweight but had mixed results over the next couple of years. In late 2014, he moved up to Middleweight and never looked back. Notable wins over Brad Tavares, Uriah Hall and Derek Brunson were impressive. But when he really turned heads was when he stopped Jacare Souza in April 2017 on FOX. Jacare was still one of the more feared and formidable 185ers on the planet at that time, he’d recently finished the likes of Okami, Mousasi and Belfort and his only loss in an 11 fight stretch was a highly debated split decision against another beast in Yoel Romero. It’s a win that mightn’t look so impressive to new fans today, who only know the last legs version of Jacare that went 0-4 at the arse end of his career. But back in 2017, this was a huge win for Whittaker and a real turning point in his career in terms of solidifying him as a real contender. I don’t remember anyone really favouring him going in and it was a bit of a shocker to see how decisively he beat Jacare down. What did he get as a reward? Back-to-back 5 round wars with this sod.

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Yep. The Middleweight title picture had became a right mess in 2017. The champ at the time Michael Bisping had a knee injury and was already being linked to a big fight with a returning Georges St Pierre anyway, so in the meantime, an interim title was created and Whittaker vs Romero was made. Whittaker won a unanimous decision in a tough battle. In the process he’d picked up his own knee injury which put him out of action for the rest of the year. GSP then beat Bisping for the strap at MSG but then relinquished it and went back into retirement. So Whittaker’s interim belt got promoted to the real thing. He was set to defend against Luke Rockhold in early 2018 but staph infection sidelined him. So Yoel stepped in and bashed up Smug Luke.

This set up Whittaker vs Romero 2 in June 2018. They went the distance again, it was a closer fight than the first one, a better fight and definitely a more brutal fight.

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I can’t remember it in great detail but I’m sure I had Yoel winning at the time. But it was close and I didn’t have a problem with Whittaker getting the nod. It was an incredible fight as I recall. And Whittaker really showed that he’s not lacking in either heart or bollocks if he was able to get through it and get the W. His toughness can never be in doubt again. The fucker was locked in a cage with prime Yoel Romero for a total of 10 full rounds. 50 minutes, for fuck’s sake! And he came out the other side 2-0 and with the gold.

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In the meantime though, a new face in the Middleweight division had emerged. And it didn’t take him long to get attention. Israel Adesanya was already 75-5 as a Kickboxer and 11-0 with 11 finishes in MMA when the UFC came calling. And on top of that, he had a confidence and outspokenness that just made you take notice. In the days of fight cards nearly every weekend and a seemingly constant revolving door of fighters being hired and fired, it’s not easy for a newcomer to stand out on the roster. Adesanya was one of the few who instantly had all eyes on him. He beat Rob Wilkinson in his Octagon debut and since then he’s faced nothing but top competition. Wins over Vettori and Brunson on the way up didn’t hurt but 2019 was the real breakout year. He beat Anderson Silva in February in a cool past vs future matchup. In April he beat Kelvin Gastelum in a 5 round war that most had as the FOTY. Then it was time.

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October 2019. UFC 243. Melbourne, Australia. In front of nearly 60,000 in attendance, Whittaker defended his title against Adesanya. I’ll admit, I recall very little of the fight. When I think back to it, all I really remember is Izzy’s entrance and the finish. I’ll try to revisit it before the rematch and do a little review in here. Regardless, we all know how it ended.

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Adesanya by KO in the second round. And so the reign began.

He’s successfully defended the belt three times now. Against Yoel Romero in a crushingly disappointing unexpected snoozer, then he blitzed through Paulo Costa, then he outpointed Marvin Vettori in a rematch. In between, he had that failed attempt at winning gold at 205 and Jan Blachowicz shut his shit down. But at 185, he’s firmly established himself as the man since dethroning ol’ Bobby Knuckles.

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As for Whittaker, the rebound started off very shaky. In early 2020 he took some time out and there was a lot of speculation about the reason why. The curiosity was stirred up more when Dana White did an interview and actually showed his human side when asked about why Whittaker was taking a break. He had nothing but positive things to say and kept saying how “selfless” Whittaker was. This naturally led to rumours that his wife or one of his kids was sick but Whittaker later said he was burnt out and needed to step away for a bit. Who knows and it’s none of our business. But when you think how cold and unforgiving Dana usually is when a fighter doesn’t want to fight, for him to be talking the way he was tells you Whittaker was going through some shit. Thankfully, things got better for him and everything I’ve seen of him on social media since, him and his family seem healthy and happy. He’s certainly not been showing any signs of being distracted or burnt out in the cage. He’s bounced back with 3 straight convincing points wins over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum. He’s looked sharper each time and seems to be in a really good place in his career right now. You look back over his career, since moving up to 185lbs in 2014, he’s gone 11-1. The only man to beat him at Middleweight has been Israel Adesanya.

Between them they’ve beat pretty much every other top contender on the roster. So talk of a rematch was inevitable. There’s been rumblings of it for a good while now. Even before Adesanya’s last defence against Vettori, a lot of people felt like Whittaker should’ve got the shot then. Somewhere along the line there were reports that it was offered and Whittaker turned it down, he wanted a different date or something like that. But then on the other side, every time Adesanya’s manager Eugene Bareman would be asked about the Whittaker rematch, he’d go all weird.

“Rob and his people, his wonderful manager, can’t secure this fight and they’re panicking. So, they put out these stupid tweets and this and that. It’s like, mate, just relax boys. Just train. That’s all we’re doing. You guys do the same. Let us handle the business, because you guys are incapable. Maybe we’re working on something different. Maybe if we can delay this Robert fight by a few months, maybe we can have it in a big stadium in Australia. Maybe that’s the right thing to do. And that’s fine. Let’s get everybody around together and let’s push Robert back a bit. I’m sure Robert would love to do this fight in a massive stadium on home turf. Let’s put someone else in this February slot. You don’t know, and I’m not willing to confirm that. Israel still fights and then it’s just up to Robert whether he wants to fight again. You gotta remember, he had a title fight. Remember? He had it. He had it signed, sealed and delivered. And he wasn’t willing to make the same commitments that we were. He wasn’t willing. Which is fine. And I’ve got nothing against him for that. But he had the title fight, and now he might have to get pushed back. I don’t know.” - Eugene Bareman

What’s that bollocks? And it was right around this time that Adesanya was apparently denying the Whittaker fight was a done deal, even though it had been officially announced. Dana wasn’t pleased when he was asked about it by the media.

“Why would we lie? When have we ever fucking lied? Twenty fucking years, have we ever lied about making a fight? Some fights are harder to make than others, but I don’t think we’ve ever lied about making a fight. Why would we lie about that fight?” - Dana White

As we know, Dana lies all the time but when fights are announced by the UFC or Dana himself they generally do happen unless someone gets injured or sick. Just a funny carry on and I get the feeling it’s this Eugene div stirring a lot of it up more than Adesanya. Regardless, it’s happening and I’m well up for it. There does actually seem to be some genuine animosity between them as well for whatever reason. It’s not like there was a ton of trash talk going into the first fight and Whittaker doesn’t usually get involved in that anyway but Adesanya is the one guy who seems to annoy him.

“Let’s not talk too much about Israel because I think he’s a piece of shit. He’s just a shit person. A shit person. Ah, a piece of shit is too rough. Too harsh. He’s a shithead. There, that sounds better. He’s a shithead. I don’t like him, he doesn’t like me. Two cats from two different paths that don’t get along.”

“The last fight I was very emotional. I was in a bad place for the sport itself, for my career. I got a bit emotional in that fight because I don’t like him very much and on top of everything else going on, I lost my cool. I wasn’t really fighting like I should fight, like I normally fight. Props to him, he got in my head. I just think he’s a shithead.” - Robert Whittaker

That’s as nasty as you’re gonna get from Whittaker. And even then he thought he was being too harsh. This talk does make me wonder if he’s gonna be coming in too wound up again. He was on a talk show recently and they had Kai Kara France on and he didn’t even wanna talk to Kai because he’s Adesanya’s teammate and friend. He wasn’t a dickhead about it but said he’d rather not talk to him until after this fight. I mean, I want Whittaker to win. I’m more a fan of his than Izzy. But I already thought he was up against it here. I think Adesanya has a bad style for him plus he’s got the added psychological advantage of already being 1-0 up. But on top of that, it does seem like he’s in Whittaker’s head as well. “Rent free” I believe the kids say. Can’t wait to see how it plays out and I think it’ll be a more competitive fight this time, but I’m expecting the same end result.

 

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Derrick Lewis vs Tai Tuivasa. Loving this. At a time when actual good Heavyweight matchups outside the title picture are thin on the ground, this is one I can get behind. Two of the most popular fighters in the division, so in that sense it’s gonna be one that splits opinion and will be bittersweet either way. It’s a fun one though. Lewis was on a nice winning streak before getting schooled by Ciryl Gane in their interim title fight last summer. That was a crushing loss, not just the loss itself but the manner of it. He got completely dominated and shut down. He bounced back in style in December though with a first round knockout over Chris Daukaus.

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You know the score with the Heavyweights. You’re always only a couple of good knockouts away from getting back in the mix no matter how many times you fall at the last hurdle. Especially if you’re loved like the ‘Black Beast’ is. I’ve said it before but he’s a better fighter than his jokey nonchalant personality suggests. I think sometimes people underestimate him because of that and I think part of that might even be by design by Lewis himself. But although he’s not quite good enough to succeed against the very top level guys, he’s gonna beat pretty much everyone outside that title picture. You look back over his career and he’s got wins over the likes of Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes, Alexander Volkov, Alexey Oleynik, Roy Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga etc. For all the laughs he provides, he’s no joke. Tuivasa is always a dangerous opponent. He’s the younger man by 8 years here. A big lump with 12 knockouts out of his 13 wins. And he comes into this one off 4 straight KOs and stopped Augusto Sakai and Greg Hardy in his last two. He’s not elite and I don’t think he ever will be but he’s exciting to watch so that instantly takes him above a high percentage of the big slugs in the division. I like both of these two but I’m pretty much always gonna root for Lewis unless he ever fights Big Nog or Cro Cop and those fights seem just a tad unlikely now. 

 

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Jared Cannonier vs Derek Brunson is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** here. Love this matchup. It was originally on the 270 card in January but got moved here for some reason. Kind of makes more sense actually because if someone drops out of the main event, here you have two logical options to step in. This probably has title shot implications as well actually. This being on the same card as Adesanya vs Whittaker 2 lines up perfectly and it’s a nice opportunity for one of these guys to really make their case for the next shot. I can’t think who’d have a better argument for it than the winner of this. Especially if Brunson wins. He arguably already deserves the shot just as much as Whittaker, if not more. He lost to Izzy in 2018 but he’s been on fire ever since. 5 wins in a row and he’s started just ruining hype trains for fun lately. First he handed Edmen Shahbazyan his first loss, then he dominated and ended the win streak of Kevin Holland, then he submitted Darren Till in September, shutting him up and snuffing out any talk of him making a resurgence.

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Really grown to like Brunson over the last year or so. He just plodded along for a few years but it seems like he just hit the reset button after that Adesanya loss. If you remember, before that he was trying to strike more in his fights and it wasn’t really working at the top level. After the Izzy loss it seemed like he just went back to basics and played to his strengths. He’s definitely found himself and seems more relaxed and comfortable in there as a result. And it comes across in his interviews and on social media as well. He seems to just be having fun with it now. He turns 38 just before this fight, I guess he’s just taking a ‘whatever happens, happens’ approach now and looking at this as a last run. Cannonier’s a bit of a weird fucker. Sometimes he comes off like he’s been watching Ultimate Warrior promos on a loop before doing media. But I like him. He’s been on a solid run as well. Dropped to 185 after a bit of a nothing run at 205 and it completely rejuvenated his career. Wins over David Branch, Anderson Silva and Jack Hermansson saw him flying up the ladder at Middleweight. A loss to Whittaker derailed him but he bounced back with a convincing points win over Kelvin Gastelum in August so he’s well back on track now. I like both but I’d love to see Brunson get the W here and really secure the title shot. He’s grafted hard to get back in this position, be a shame if he doesn’t at least get a crack at the gold before it’s all said and done.

 

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Alexander Hernandez vs Renato Moicano. This should be good. I say it every time he fights but I really can’t take to Hernandez. Seemed a bit of a bellend before and after a few fights and he’s come unstuck a few times now after getting ideas above his station and getting cocky. He’s clearly got some talent. The prick’s got a knockout win over Beneil Dariush on his record from a few years ago. As well as a win over Francisco Trinaldo. But in recent fights he’s only really shone against ham and eggers. Then he gets overconfident, steps up against someone better and loses. In fairness, he was alright last time I saw him.

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That’s him wrecking Mike Breeden in just over a minute back in October. For once, he didn’t come off as a cock in his post-fight interviews either. So maybe the defeats have finally humbled him a bit. We’ll see how long it lasts. Quite like Moicano. He was actually starting to be talked about as a potential contender at one point after he gave Brian Ortega hell before getting subbed, then beating Calvin Kattar and Cub Swanson. He’s had a rough couple of years though with stoppage losses to Aldo, Zombie and Fiziev. He comes into this one off a submission win over Jai Herbert. I’d love to see him throttle Hernandez, to be honest. I definitely think he can win this one but I’m not exactly confident at this point. Solid fight though.

 

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Nasrat Haqparast vs Bobby Green is a good fight. Saw a bunch of ‘who did Haqparast piss off’ type tweets when this was announced as if it’s a total sacrifice but I don’t really know where that thinking comes from. Of course, Green’s a handful but Haqparast’s no pushover himself. He’s only 26 years old, 13-4 now coming off a points loss against Dan Hooker in September. He won a really fun hard hitting scrap with Rafa Garcia before that and also holds a win over Marc Diakiese. He had a tough 2021 though. The loss to Hooker was nothing in the big picture because his mum had passed away during his camp for that fight. I understand why Green’s being favoured though. He’s a veteran of over 40 MMA fights, has fought everywhere from Bellator to Strikeforce to King Of The Cage and even appeared in Affliction the short time they were running shows. He’s had a bit of an up and down last few results, lost a couple of decisions to Moises and Fiziev along the way but he was on a sweet little win streak before that and he bounced back in style in his last fight, stopping Al Iaquinta in a round and bagging himself a POTN bonus in the process. I like this fight a lot actually. Not a huge fight in terms of relevance, especially in the bursting at the seams 155 division. But it adds that bit of depth of quality that this card needed.

 

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Andrei Arlovski vs Jared Vanderaa. Worth a look. Arlovski’s a legend. His fights over the last few years haven’t been anything to write home about but I’ll always tune in for them. He turns 43 years old just before this card and he’s had some serious ups and downs in his career, it’s been well documented. But he’s settled into that gatekeeper role in recent years. You generally don’t beat Arlovski unless you’ve got something about you and he’s still managing to get wins over younger lower level-mid tier Heavyweights as well as fellow ageing veterans. He’s obviously far past his prime at this point but he’s no mug. Vanderaa’s the much younger man at 29 but he hasn’t achieved half as much in the sport as Arlovski. He’s 12-6 and has knocked about a bit but the couple of times he’s been in with anyone good in the UFC he’s been stopped by Alexander Romanov and Sergey Spivak. He’s tough but he’s the kind of guy Arlovski’s still been beating so we’ll see.

 

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Roxanne Modafferi vs Casey O’Neill. Proper old school vs new breed clash here. And apparently it’ll be Modafferi’s last fight. She confirmed recently that she’ll be retiring after this one. The end of a long and tough old career but it feels like it’s time. She’s 39 years old now, coming off back-to-back losses and she’s 25-19 overall. On top of that, she’s just got engaged. Her fella proposed in the cage after his fight on a Titan FC show.

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In contrast, O’Neill is one of the better prospects in the women’s game right now, only 24 years old and undefeated at 8-0. Logic says to favour O’Neill here but I wouldn’t count Modafferi out. It’d be easy to given her age and the amount of losses she’s had but she’s got so much experience. She made her MMA debut in 2003, when O’Neill was 6 years old! She’s fought everywhere and against some really good fighters throughout a few different eras. She’s crafty and has a really awkward style and strong BJJ. And she’s got form for derailing younger, unbeaten prospects. Just in the last couple of years she’s handed Antonina Shevchenko and Maycee Barber their first career losses. And you have to think she’ll be extra motivated to go out on a win here. I’d like to see it. Nothing against O’Neill and it would obviously be better for the division if she won but I can’t help root for the veteran in these situations. Especially when they’re as likeable as Modafferi. Be nice to see her go off into the sunset on a happy note.

 

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Kyler Phillips vs Marcelo Rojo is one of those fights that’ll probably go under the radar but could well end up stealing the show. Phillips is 9-2 and coming off a points loss to Raulian Paiva but he beat Song Yadong before that in an excellent fight and looked a right handful. And Rojo’s a madman. 16-7 from Argentina. No world beater but he’s a lot of fun to watch. His last fight against Charles Jourdain in March was one of my favourite undercard gems from 2021. Probably gonna be one of those fights where it looks like they’re on fast forward and you think your telly’s knackered.

 

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Carlos Ulberg vs Fabio Cherant. Kind of interested in this. Mainly to see how Ulberg looks. He came into the UFC with a little bit of buzz as a teammate of Adesanya and he scored a spectacular knockout on DWCS. Made his Octagon debut at UFC 259 in March against Kennedy Nzechukwu, and was looking worthy of the hype early on. But Nzechukwu rallied and scored a big comeback KO. It was a really entertaining scrap and they got the FOTN bonus but I’m sure Ulberg would’ve preferred the W. Don’t know much about Cherant and I’ve only seen him getting his arse kicked so far. He’s 7-3 and has been finished inside a round by both Alonzo Menifield and William Knight in his 2 trips to the Octagon so far. Feels like he’s being set up as the sacrificial lamb here but we’ll see.

 

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Ronnie Lawrence vs Mana Martinez. Well up for this. Mostly to see Lawrence back in there. Heard good things about him coming off DWCS and he didn’t disappoint in his UFC debut.

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Absolutely battered Vince Cachero in February. He’s 7-1 now with 4 knockouts, trains at American Top Team. Not sure how good he is but he looked the business in his debut. He was linked to a couple of fights later in the year but they fell through, hopefully this one goes ahead. Martinez got in the UFC after impressing Dana White on that Lookin’ For A Fight thing. Made his UFC debut in August, taking a split decision off Guido Cannetti. He’s 9-2 with 8 knockouts. Sounds like a nice clash of young up and comers.

 

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Jacob Malkoun vs AJ Dobson. Dunno. All I really know about Malkoun is he’s a teammate of Robert Whittaker. So that’ll be why he’s on this card. He’s 26 years old, Aussie, 5-1 with 2 knockouts. In his UFC debut he got sparked by Phil Hawes in just 18 seconds. I remember that. He’s since come back and beat Abdul Razak Alhassan on points in April. I don’t remember that but that’s a good win for him so early in his career. Especially coming off a quick knockout loss. Dobson’s 6-0-1 and was on DWCS. Never heard of him before.

 

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Douglas Silva De Andrade vs Sergey Morozov. OK fight. De Andrade is usually decent to watch and he does have some standout wins over the likes of Marlon Vera and Renan Barao. Although Barao was well shot by that time. He’s also been thrown to the wolves a fair bit and been fed to Petr Yan, Rob Font and Lerone Murphy. Because of this, his record’s patchy as fuck. He’s just not on that level but he’s no-one to be slept on. And even at 36, he’ll still school anyone who’s not hovering around that upper level. As Gaetano Pirrello found out in October.

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Morozov’s the younger man at 32, has a record of 17-5 with 11 finishes and is a former M-1 Global Bantamweight champion. Lost his UFC debut but that was against Umar Nurmagomedov. He bounced back and beat Khalid Taha last time out.

 

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Jeremiah Wells vs Mike Mathetha has just been cobbled together from the leftovers of two cancelled fights. Mathetha was supposed to fight Orion Cosce on this card but COVID took Cosce out. And Wells was booked against Tim Means on the Hermansson vs Strickland card the week before this but now Means is out. And here we are.

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Yeah. Only seen his UFC debut so far but Wells made quite a first impression. He knocked out Warlley Alves in June after taking the fight on really late notice. Must’ve been a week or less. He’s 9-2 overall with 7 inside the distance. Haven’t got much else to go on from the little I’ve seen but just based on that debut I’m already invested in seeing him back in there. This’ll be my first time seeing Mathetha, AKA ‘Blood Diamond’, fight. Sherdog says he’s 3-0 and I know he’s a City Kickboxing guy, so a teammate of Israel Adesanya, Dan Hooker, Kai Kara France etc. Makes sense having his debut on this card.

 

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William Knight vs Maxim Grishin. Not much of an opinion on this really. It was originally supposed to be Ed Herman against Grishin but Herman’s out. In steps Knight. An absolute tank of a man. Haven’t been blown away by him so far but he’s looked decent enough. I think when someone looks like he does though, you’re expecting decapitations. He’s 11-2 now and coming off a points win over Alonzo Menifield and a first round KO over Fabio Cherant before that. Grishin’s no spring chicken. 37 years old and this’ll be his 43rd fight but most of it was outside the UFC so I’m not that familiar with him. Based on the limited footage I’ve seen of both I think Knight should probably be winning but he is taking it on short notice and Grishin’s got way more experience. Fuck knows? 

 

Not stacked or anything but I love the main event and Cannonier vs Brunson. Another title fight added as co-main would do wonders for the overall strength of this one but I don’t hate it as it is.

SHITHEAD! 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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Yeah when you consider that mad run we just had from UFC 266 to 269, plus the Holloway vs Yair and Aldo vs Font Fight Nights, the start of 2022 was never gonna be quite as stacked. Still, hard to complain when we’re getting Ngannou vs Gane, Moreno vs Figgy 3 and Adesanya vs Whittaker 2 in the first 2 PPVs of the year. 

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The addition of Derrick Lewis vs Tai Tuivasa has given this card a much needed boost. Still think it could’ve done with a second title fight added in the co-main spot but it’s a bit late in the day for that now so probably unlikely. Still, not a bad card. Hopefully what’s there stays intact but I realise that’s being hopelessly optimistic. Added a Lewis vs Tuivasa bit to the opening post now. 

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News from the weigh in;

William Knight came in 12 fucking lbs over the Light Heavyweight limit! His fight with Maxim Grishin is at Heavyweight now and Knight’s forfeiting 40% of his purse to Grishin as a result. Probably leaves Knight with about a tenner. Knight did step in on short notice but still, to be that far over is taking the piss. 

Also…

On 1/2/2022 at 12:37 AM, wandshogun09 said:

 

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Alex Perez vs Matt Schnell. I’ll believe it when I see it. These two have been scheduled to fight a bunch of times now. Just over the last year I must’ve previewed this at least 14 times. Of course I’m exaggerating but it’s got to be 3 or 4 times now. Just in the last year. If it actually goes ahead this time it should be decent. Perez has put together a very respectable 24-6 record and chopped down Jussier Formiga in a round with leg kicks not too long ago. He got a title shot off the back of that but came up short against Figgy in late 2020 and was inactive all of 2021. Schnell’s 15-6 with wins over Tyson Nam, Louis Smolka and Jordan Espinosa. Nothing mind blowing but not bad. I’d definitely favour Perez here but Schnell should make a bit of a scrap of it. If it happens. I’m not holding my breath.

Good job I didn’t hold my breath. I’d be dead. Perez vs Schnell is off again. Perez missed weight and Schnell declined the fight going ahead. In fairness to Schnell, this is the second time in a row Perez has missed weight for this specific matchup. Regardless, they should never ever book this fight again. It’s probably been cancelled more times than Khabib vs Ferguson at this point, just hardly anyone noticed because it’s prelim fodder. 

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So I’ve rewatched Adesanya vs Whittaker 1 for probably the first time since it happened. Always like to do that the weekend of a big rematch as a bit of a refresher. Barely remembered anything about this first fight besides the finish so thought I’d give it another look.

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The fight took place in October 2019. Whittaker had become champion by going through Derek Brunson, Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero twice. He’d had some tough battles, in and out of the cage though. At the time of this fight he’d been out of action 16 months with a terrible run of injuries and health issues. In the meantime, Israel Adesanya had signed with the UFC and quickly risen up the ranks with wins over Marvin Vettori, Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson and the legendary Anderson Silva. What really tipped him over the edge though, was his FOTY barnburner against Kelvin Gastelum in April 2019. It was made an interim title fight due to Whittaker‘s inactivity and Izzy wound up winning on points in a tremendous back and forth war. A few months later, finally healthy, Whittaker was good to go. The champion vs interim champion unification match was booked and would be a massive event held at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. There’d been a bit of needle between the two going in but nothing major really. Just a natural competitive rivalry between the two top dogs in the yard.

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Robert Whittaker (c) vs Israel Adesanya (ic) - UFC Middleweight Title

UFC 243: Whittaker vs Adesanya 

October 5th 2019

Melbourne, Australia 

Marc Goddard’s on reffing duties. Commentators are Jon Anik and Daniel Cormier. No Joe Rogan. Result! Before the fight they tell us that this event has broken the record as the highest attended UFC card of all time with over 57,000 people there. 

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That record still stands. Of course, a few months after this show COVID went in dry on the world and we only started seeing crowds come back at all in mid 2021. Who knows how long it’ll be before they can hold another card in a huge stadium like this.

Adesanya’s entrance here is something to behold. Comes out with his own dancers and puts on a bit of a show.

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OK, it’s no Prince Naseem coming out on a fucking magic carpet but it was cool to see something different for once. Dana’s always said he’s not a fan of that stuff, big dollop of misery that he is, he says he likes the no nonsense, serious, fighter just walking through the tunnel thing. Fine. But Dana’s tastes and preferences aren’t the be all-end all. A bit of showmanship never hurts.

Anyway…

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Round 1: Whittaker out aggressively right away but not really having much success early on. He keeps going for them horrible oblique kicks to Izzy’s skinny legs but no luck so far. Whittaker’s really going for it here. Some of it landed, most of it missing. And even the stuff that’s landing, Adesanya’s mostly rolling with it or deflecting it. I kind of get what Whittaker’s doing. Going the technical route probably wouldn’t work out too well and the shorter Gastelum had landed a lot and hurt Izzy a bunch of times in Izzy’s previous fight. Getting in Adesanya’s face and trying to make the fight ugly makes sense. But at times here it’s swinging more into reckless territory where he’s just bulling forward and leaving himself wide open to counters. Still, decent left hook lands for Whittaker and he might be winning this round so far just based on being busier. If he’s had any success then it’s that he’s really not giving Adesanya much chance to get anything going. Oblique kick attempt again from Whittaker…

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Almost backfires. He just about got that right hand up in time. Whittaker lunging and hitting thin air again. Adesanya’s looking relaxed but he’s got to be careful at all times because Whittaker’s throwing serious heat constantly. Closing seconds of the round and Whittaker goes on the attack again. And pays the price.

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Adesanya decks him but the round is over. Just as he hit the canvas the horn sounded. Whittaker looks wobbly on his feet as he goes back to the corner and that gives the round to Adesanya 10-9.

Round 2: That knockdown doesn’t seem to have spooked Whittaker at all. He’s coming out swinging again here. He’s having a bit more success with it as well, to be fair. He’s throwing some straighter punches now instead of the big hooks at the start of the fight, and he’s got Izzy on the back foot a little bit.

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Nothing too damaging but he seems to be settling into the fight more now. Adesanya’s hands are fairly low here and Whittaker’s coming very close on some big shots but they’re just whizzing past the sweet spot. You can tell Adesanya’s holding his hands low on purpose to lure Whittaker in. He’s really good at moving out of the way just enough but staying in range to fire back. And right when I say that…

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That little sneaky right hook counter is something I don’t remember from this fight but watching it here, I think it’s a crucial moment. It didn’t even look like a massive shot but it was right on the chin. Before that landed Whittaker was having a pretty good round. He was noticeably hurt by that shot though and, although he’s still game as ever and returning fire in the exchanges, he looks shaky and unsteady and he’s backing up a bit for probably the first time in the fight. Adesanya with a beautiful flurry to the body now. Whittaker’s still throwing, scores with a left hook and comes close-ish on a couple of headkicks. They trade again and…

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It’s over! Adesanya eats a jab and again leans back just enough to get out of harm’s way, then absolutely cracks Whittaker with a left that connects flush on the jaw. Even as Whittaker’s going down, he’s out of it but you can see his natural instincts are to try to stay up but his legs are done and the fight’s a wrap.

Winner - Israel Adesanya by knockout. Round 2 - 3:33.

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Fun fight while it lasted. Like I said, I can see why Whittaker went balls out the way he did, especially after Gastelum was able to drag Adesanya into a slobberknocker just months earlier. But it was one of those gameplans that either has to pay off early on or you’re going to fade and/or get caught coming in. That kind of pace and aggression must be hell to deal with for a round or so but the vast majority of the time it’s gonna be unsustainable over the course of a longer fight.

I’m rooting for Whittaker in this rematch because 1) I’m a bigger fan of his than Adesanya and 2) it opens up the trilogy. But I’m just struggling to see Whittaker winning this fight. I just think in the end, it’s gonna come down to the same problem for Whittaker, in that Adesanya’s just got that extra level of striking. In a technical standup fight, that plays to Izzy’s strengths. And in a firefight, he’s gonna be the more accurate offensively and the more difficult to hit defensively. It’s not impossible for Whittaker. There were moments here, even at the finish, where he was fractions away from landing a bomb. And he’s talked a lot about being in a shitty place mentally going into that one, fighting angry etc. He seems in great spirits this week so maybe a more mature, relaxed and content Whittaker will approach things completely differently and choose his openings better. Fuck knows? But I’ve just got a feeling Adesanya goes 2-0. I think it’ll be a tougher fight, maybe going the distance, but ultimately the same end result. It’ll be interesting to see if Whittaker tries to wrestle a bit here. Since their fight in 2019, we know a bit more about Izzy and we’ve seen Jan Blachowicz lay out the blueprint on wrestling Adesanya. But it’ll be easier said than done and Jan is obviously much bigger. Just got a feeling Whittaker might try mixing it up a bit this time. Whether that helps or hinders him remains to be seen.

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I’ve got Adesanya on points, I think. But I’d love to see Bobby Knuckles pull it off.

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the new lineup:

i love that they've moved Hernandez/Moicano to the PPV, it makes it look like a stronger main card, excellent fight. Wonder why they moved it though and relegated Phillips/Rojo to the prelims.

 

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Hernandez was moaning earlier in the week about his fight being on Fight Pass so I guess they were listening. And William Knight’s fight’s been fucked off right down to the opening prelim on Fight Pass after his spectacular weight miss so with that and the Perez vs Schnell cancellation it freed up some spots further up the card. Basically a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease with Hernandez but that fight always deserved higher billing in fairness.

Here’s Hernandez’s rant earlier this week;

https://www.mmafighting.com/platform/amp/2022/2/9/22925108/alexander-hernandez-rips-ufc-for-card-placement-ufc-271

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I think the top 2 fights are those sorts of fights which are impossible to be boring. Beast/Tuivasa should be edge of your seat stuff, which could end at any moment. You get the feeling watching Izzy that youre watching something special. Not the same aura as Anderson Silva had, but not too far away, Cant really explain it properly, but its somehting you only get with a few fighters each generation, and hes definately in that group right now.

I would bet a lot of cash on the Modaferri and Arlovski fights both being stinkers, but its always fun to root for fighters from this era, as there arent many of them left (in the UFC, anyway). Arlovski still getting it done at the elite level somehow makes me feel better about myself getting old.

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I can't see anything other than Derek Lewis KO'ing Tuivasa, unless Tai comes in smart and fires in lots of heavy legkicks, but it likely breaks down into a brawl. Once the touch paper gets lit though I just see Lewis' landing that bomb.

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Fucking yes! Racist Rogan’s got the night off.

Best bit is the article saying Rogan has a ‘scheduling conflict’. Nothing to do with that video that surfaced recently of him saying the N word about 50 times on various podcasts over about a 10 year span then? Just a coincidence. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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