Reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will return to the Octagon for his fourth title defense early next year, according to UFC president Dana White.
White recently spoke with TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter and confirmed that “The Last Stylebender” will rematch former UFC 185-pound champion Robert Whittaker in the main event of UFC 271 on February 12, 2022. A venue has not yet been locked down, as per Bronsteter’s report, but the UFC hopes to bring the event to either “Seattle or a major Canadian City.”
“Just spoke to Dana White who tells me that UFC 271, expected to be headlined by Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whitaker is being targeted for either Seattle or a major Canadian city on February 12, 2022,” Bronsteter tweeted on October 25, 2021.
The fight is a rematch over two years in the making. The combatants collided at UFC 243 in October 2019 to unify the middleweight belt as the then-champ, Whittaker, had been shelved because of injury while Adesanya picked up the interim title in “The Reaper’s” absence. The fight went two rounds and The Last Stylebender became the undisputed champion via KO. Since then, Whittaker has been on a run, winning three fights in a row and establishing himself as the No. 1 contender.
On the other end, Adesanya has defended the strap three times. He also made a trip up to light heavyweight earlier this year in pursuit of his second divisional title but fell short to Jan Blachowicz, losing by unanimous decision.
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Adesanya Has a Win Over Every Top-5 Middleweight Except 1
The Last Stylebender’s run at 185 pounds has been nothing short of impressive, boasting a 10-0 record in the UFC division. He holds wins over four of the top-five contenders, which includes Robert Whittaker, Paulo Costa, Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori.
Adesanya took out Brunson on his way to gold, and after taking the belt from Whittaker, he defended his title against Yoel Romero, Costa and Vettori.
The Last Stylebender has a pro MMA record of 22-1, with 15 wins coming by either KO or TKO. Adesanya’s lone loss is to Blachowicz in what was a competitive affair until the “Polish Power” used his size and strength to control Adesanya on the ground for the latter part of the fight.
The only top-five middleweight Adesanya has yet to fight is Jared Cannonier. Cannonier is set to fight Brunson at UFC 270 on January 22, 2022, according to MMA Fighting. The fight will likely determine the next contender for the 185-pound throne behind Whittaker.
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Whittaker Has Earned 3 Unanimous Decision Wins Since Losing Belt
Whittaker took nine months off after losing the strap to Adesanya and then returned to action against Darren Till. In what proved to be a chess match on the feet, The Reaper edged the scorecards and won by unanimous decision.
The former champion followed up the win by scoring two more unanimous decisions, defeating Cannonier in October 2020 and Kelvin Gastelum in 2021.
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