The rest of the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight division may want to reconsider its state of preparedness as it relates to Israel Adesanya.
The undefeated Nigerian kickboxer breezed through his most significant test to date, as he sliced and diced Brad Tavares en route to a unanimous decision in “The Ultimate Fighter 27” Finale main event on Friday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Scores of 49-46, 50-45 and 50-45 confirmed the arrival of a new contender at 185 pounds.
Adesanya, per FightMetric, connected with nearly three times as many total strikes (127-46) and significant strikes (119-40) as the Hawaiian across the 25-minute confrontation. Perhaps most impressively, he denied all but one of Tavares’ 12 takedown attempts. Adesanya left the Xtreme Couture mainstay in a compromised state in the fourth round, where he opened a gruesome horizontal cut below his right eyebrow with a standing elbow. For Tavares, it will serve as a permanent reminder of his encounter with “The Last Stylebender.”
In the aftermath of “The Ultimate Fighter 27” Finale, here are four matches that ought to be made:
Israel Adesanya vs. Uriah Hall-Paulo Henrique Costa winner: In three UFC appearances, Adesanya has graduated from sideshow to person of interest to full-fledged contender. The 28-year-old made it look easy against Tavares, a proven veteran who entered the cage on the strength of a four-fight winning streak. What comes next for Adesanya, now 14-0, figures to be a topic of conversation in the coming months, though there are plenty of intriguing options in the Top 10 at 185 pounds. Hall and Costa will square off at UFC 226 on July 7 in Las Vegas.
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Jessica Eye: Modafferi finally has a UFC victory on her resume. The unequivocally likeable “Happy Warrior” blew through Barb Honchak and avenged a 2011 defeat in their rematch, as she stopped the former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder with a sustained burst of elbow strikes in the second round. Modafferi, 35, has won seven of her last 10 fights, losing only to Vanessa Porto, Jennifer Maia and Nicco Montano. Eye last competed at UFC Fight Night 132 on June 23, when she took a unanimous decision from Jessica-Rose Clark in Singapore.
Alex Caceres vs. Gabriel Benitez: Caceres needed every bit of his guile and skill to deny Martin Bravo and eke out a split decision in their three-round featherweight showcase. The MMA Lab representative tagged and staggered Bravo more than once with blistering left hands, but he could not close the deal and was forced to withstand a late surge from the 24-year-old Mexican. Caceres evened his UFC record at 9-9 and once again proved himself a worthy gatekeeper at 145 pounds. Benitez last fought at UFC Fight Night 129, where he knocked out Humberto Bandenay with a slam in just 39 seconds on May 19.
Gerald Meerschaert vs. Tom Breese: No one ever seems to talk about Meerschaert, but the former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion has compiled a 4-1 record since joining the UFC in 2016. The Roufusport representative made his latest stand at the expense of Oskar Piechota, as he rendered the previously unbeaten Pole unconscious with a second-round rear-naked choke in their undercard clash. It was the 20th submission win of Meerschaert’s career. Breese returned from a two-year layoff at UFC Fight Night 130 in May and disposed of four-time Olympian Daniel Kelly with punches 3:33 into the first round.