UFC 271: Stylebender May Bend, But Will Not Break

Israel Adesanya is looking to defend his belt for the 4th time against the guy he took it away from in the first place: Robert Whittaker. The first fight, in October 2019, was not competitive. It was one of the few fights in history where a fighter was knocked out twice in the same fight. One happened at the buzzer of the first round, where the expression “saved by the bell” has never been more true, and the second happened 3:33 into the second round, putting an exclamation point on a dominant kickboxing display. Robert Whittaker is riding a 3-fight win streak since their initial bout and has shown many improvements along the way, especially in the grappling department. Things will likely play out differently this time, but the result will be the same.

Keys to Victory: Israel Adesanya

Keep the fight standing. Israel has, by and large, shown great takedown defense throughout his UFC career. As long as he has kept the fight standing up, no one is remotely on his level in the striking game. He has a 7-inch reach advantage on Bobby Knuckles and knows how to use it. The dexterity in all 4 of his limbs gives him the ability to offer the most diverse striking arsenal in the UFC. As long as he can defend against Whittaker’s much improved-wrestling and grappling, he won’t have much of a problem staying out of harm’s way and putting Whittaker in danger. 

Keys to Victory: Robert Whittaker

You guessed it: secure the takedown – and control Izzy on the ground. Two tall tasks, as Israel’s ability to scramble and get back to his feet is very solid as well. Patience will be another key. In the first match, Whittaker spent a lot of time lunging in, overextending, and getting off balance – and still missing. Israel read this pretty quickly as the counter-striking onslaught commenced. Whittaker needs to play more of a counter game this time around, letting Israel come to him more, creating openings, however small they might be, for well-timed takedowns. 

Official Prediction: Israel Adesanya by 3rd Round Knockout

He’s just too good. Whittaker may secure a couple takedowns, extending the fight longer than the last one, but in the end, Israel’s striking is just too next-level. I won’t be mad about it, either. In their first match I was all-in for Robert Whittaker, by Izzy’s entertainment value, and recent defense of Joe Rogan in the UFC 271 Press Conference, has won me over. His talent is undeniable and could end up securing his legacy as the greatest middleweight of all time – though he of course has a lot to accomplish before passing The Spider.

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