Israel Adesanya knocks out Whittaker to win middleweight title
New Zealand-based Israel Adesanya has dethroned the UFC middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker.
The Nigerian-born fighter achieved this latest feat in spectacular fashion at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia.
The 30-year old has now extended his perfect professional record to 18-0.
To emerge victoriously, Adesanya landed a right hook which floored Whittaker in the final seconds of the first round and ended the fight in the second of the five-round contest with a left hook.
In all, it took Adesanya 3 minutes 35 seconds to capture the undisputed UFC middleweight title in front of nearly 60,000 fans at Marvel Stadium.
As reported by the BBC, Whittaker started out throwing a host of power shots but Adesanya was loose and slick on his feet in the opening round, and delivered a stunning right hand in the final seconds that sent Whittaker crashing to the canvas as the buzzer saved the champion from a first-round defeat.
A similar counter right hook from Adesanya found its mark early in the second round as the interim champion began to turn on the heat, but a powerful left from the defending champion showed the challenger would have to be on his guard against Whittaker’s power.
And, as the pair started to trade big shots in the middle of the octagon, Adesanya planted his feet and answered a straight right from Whittaker with a stunning right-left combination to send him down, with referee Marc Goddard stepping in to spare the Australian further punishment as the Kiwi moved in to apply the finishing touches on the ground.
A former kickboxing star, Adesanya exploded onto the global MMA scene only last year after arriving in the UFC with an undefeated 11-0 record.
“I was in the nosebleeds,” Adesanya told UFC commentator Jon Anik in his post-fight interview. “Now I made his nose bleed.
“He threw everything we expected. We had everything from his Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. We had everything up to Plan Z.”
Adesanya’s first test as undisputed middleweight champion looks set to come against Brazilian contender, Paulo Costa, who was a prominent figure at cageside on fight night.