Nigerian UFC fighter Israel Adesanya has defeated Robert Whittaker to retain his middleweight title at UFC 271 in Houston, Texas.
The reigning UFC middleweight champion battled Whittaker over five rounds to ultimately win a unanimous decision in his fourth consecutive title defense in front of 6,000 fans packed into the Toyota Center.
Coming in, ESPN had Adesanya ranked No. 2 and Whittaker ranked No. 9 on its MMA pound-for-pound rankings. At middleweight, Adesanya was No. 1 and Whittaker No. 2.
Judges Jacob Montalvo and Doug Crosby had Adesanya winning the first three rounds and Whittaker taking the final two. Judge Mike Beltran had Adesanya winning all but the second round, which he gave to Whittaker. Adesanya outlanded Whittaker 79-59 in significant strikes, according to UFC Stats.
But Whittaker landed more significant strikes to the head, 38-36, with Adesanya outlanding Whittaker in strikes to the legs, 29-13. Whittaker landed four takedowns, which matched Marvin Vettori for the most by any opposing fighter against Adesanya in the UFC, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“I knew he was going to bring everything cause last time I took everything away from him. So he had nothing to lose. Like I said, I’m the champ, you want it, come get it.” Adesanya said after his latest win.
The final scorecards read 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47 with Adesanya moving to 22-1 in his career with the victory.