MMA: Israel Adesanya defeats Robert Whittaker at UFC 271

Field Level Media

Posted at Feb 13 2022 09:53 PM

Israel Adesanya (red gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) during UFC 271 at Toyota Center. Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
Israel Adesanya (red gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) during UFC 271 at Toyota Center. Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

It was more competitive the second time around, but the result was the same.

New Zealand's Israel Adesanya earned a second victory over Robert Whittaker on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 271 in a tightly contested affair.

The judges' scores at Toyota Center in Houston went 48-47, 48-47, 49-46 for a unanimous decision in favor of Adesanya.

They first met at UFC 243 in Melbourne, where Adesanya took the middleweight title by defeating Whittaker via second-round knockout in October 2019.

Adesanya (22-1) steamrolled Sydney's Whittaker (23-6) in that first meeting and in the opening round Saturday night, it appeared another easy night's work was coming, as Adesanya scored a knockdown and didn't allow Whittaker to get any offense going.

Whittaker, however, found success with his grappling game, scoring several takedowns and nearly securing a choke in the fourth round. But he could never quite get in position to finish, and Adesanya's incessant kicks to Whittaker's head took a toll as the fight went on, and the champ hung on to record his fourth successful title defense.

"I knew he was going to bring everything, because he has nothing to lose," Adesanya said. "I'm the champ, if you want it come get it."

The evening's co-feature bout was a thrilling heavyweight slugfest that delivered on its promise of fireworks.

Australia's Tai Tuivasa (15-3) took everything the UFC's all-time knockout king Derrick Lewis (26-9) could dish out and rallied to win via a stunning knockout of his own in the second round.

The opening round saw both land heavy shots, and in a bit of foreshadowing, Tuivasa managed to keep his wits while eating big Lewis hammers and fired back several of his own.

In the second, Lewis put Tuivasa on wobbly legs, but before Houston's own could add to his UFC record 13 KOs, Tuivasa regained his composure and started landing. He landed a perfect standing elbow to the jaw that sent Lewis crashing face-first to the mat, ending it at 1:40.

"That's the king of knockouts, much respect to Derrick Lewis," said Tuivasa, who has five straight wins, all via knockout. "But like I said, I'm not coming, I'm taking over."