At UFC 271, Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker will compete in a long-awaited rematch for the UFC Middleweight Championship. Adesanya and Whittaker first competed at UFC 243 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. Adesanya finished Whittaker at this event to become the Undisputed UFC Middleweight Champion.
More than 2 years later, a lot has changed but one thing remains the same: Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker are the two best Middleweights in the world. Whittaker earned a rematch by defeating Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, and Kelvin Gastelum in 3 consecutive fights.
Let’s compare the pre-fight numbers from the first fight to the rematch.
Heading into the first fight, Robert Whittaker was coming off of back to back wins against Yoel Romero and Adesanya had just defeated Kelvin Gastelum for the interim Middleweight Championship. There was a 16 month layoff for Whittaker in between the Romero rematch and the first Adesanya fight.
60% of the Verdict Community predicted Whittaker to defeat Adesanya with 34% predicting a knockout and 23% predicting a decision win.
On the contrary, 40% of the Verdict Community predicted Adesanaya to defeat Whittaker with 20% predicting a knockout and 20% predicting a decision win.
The community was confident in Whittaker’s ability to perform well in the later rounds as 28% predicted a Whittaker stoppage win after the 2nd round as opposed to 16% for Adesanya.
3% predicted Whittaker to win by submission while no one predicted an Adesanya submission.
The actual result: Israel Adesanya by 2nd round knockout.
Only 3% of the Verdict Community predicted the outcome of the first fight.
After their first fight, Adesanya went on to defend his Middleweight title against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, and Marvin Vettori while Whittaker defeated Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, and Kelvin Gastelum in 3 consecutive fights.
Adesanya also attempted to win the Light Heavyweight title against Jan Błachowicz but lost a competitive fight.
Both Adesanya and Whittaker look like better versions of themselves compared to the first fight. While 60% of the community predicted Whittaker to defeat Adesanya in the first fight, the roles have now reversed as 60% are predicted Adesanya to win the rematch.
Even though Adesanya has a definitive win against Whittaker, the Verdict Community believes that Whittaker has a better chance of defeating Adesanya than Marvin Vettori, Paulo Costa, and Yoel Romero did.
Whereas 34% predicted Whittaker to win the first fight by knockout, only 9% are predicting him to win by knockout in the rematch.
Interestingly, more people are picking Robert Whittaker to win the fight if it goes to a decision at 32% compared to Adesanya’s 27%.
Only 4% are predicting Adesanya will once again finish Whittaker by 2nd round knockout.
Unlike the first fight, it seems like Whittaker is more likely to grapple with Adesanya since he’s seen Jan Blachowicz successfully do so. 3% predicted Whittaker to win by submission in the first fight now 4% are predicted him to win by submission in the rematch.
There’s been a lot of time since the first fight. Time to reflect, assess, and improve. Through it all, Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker have remained the two best Middleweights in the world.
But there can only be one King. We’ll find out who that is at UFC 271.