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Israel Adesanya has completed his meteoric rise to the top of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s 185-pound division.
“The Last Stylebender” disposed of Robert Whittaker with second-round punches to claim the undisputed middleweight championship in the UFC 243 headliner on Saturday at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. Whittaker (20-5, 11-3 UFC) became the City Kickboxing superstar’s latest victim 3:33 into Round 2, as he suffered his first defeat since Feb. 22, 2014.
Adesanya (18-0, 7-0 UFC) probed for openings from the start, bided his time and waited for a misstep from “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” winner. Whittaker was the busier and more aggressive fighter in the first round, but a right hook floored him just before the horn and altered the direction of the bout. Adesanya wobbled “Bobby Knuckles” with another right hand early in Round 2, attacked the body and countered beautifully during a wild exchange in the center of the cage. A short left hook caught Whittaker on the chin, sent him to the canvas and left him in no condition to defend himself. After a few more punches from Adesanya, referee Marc Goddard called for the stoppage.
Dominant Hooker Downs Iaquinta
City Kickboxing star Dan Hooker rolled to his sixth win in seven outings, as he captured a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter 15” finalist Al Iaquinta in the three-round lightweight co-main event. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26, all for Hooker (19-8, 9-4 UFC).
Iaquinta (14-6-1, 9-5 UFC) played right into the Kiwi’s hands. Hooker exploited his physical advantages, chewed into the Serra-Longo Fight Team mainstay’s lead leg with repeated kicks and cracked him with a thudding jab. He had Iaquinta in significant trouble in the first round, where he advanced to the back and hunted the rear-naked choke. Hooker then floored the New York native with a counter right hand in the middle stanza and continued to widen his lead in the third.
The 32-year-old Iaquinta has lost three of his last four fights.
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Spivak Choke Sleeps Tuivasa
Sergey Spivak rebounded from his first professional defeat and did so in resounding fashion, as he choked Tai Tuivasa unconscious with an arm-triangle in the second round of their featured heavyweight encounter. Tuivasa (8-3, 3-3 UFC) blacked out 3:14 into Round 2.
Spivak (10-1, 1-1 UFC) controlled much of the fight with his takedowns and positional control, routinely grounding the former Australian Fighting Championship titleholder. In the second round, the Moldovan secured another takedown, dropped elbows and opened a cut on Tuivasa’s right eyelid. From there, Spivak set the choke, cleared the Aussie’s legs and tightened his squeeze until the job was done.
Once one of the heavyweight division’s most promising young talents, Tuivasa has suddenly lost three fights in a row.
Lima Leg Kicks Thwart Jumeau
Two-time “Ultimate Fighter” finalist Dhiego Lima continued his resurgence with a split decision over Phuket Top Team’s Luke Jumeau in a three-round welterweight feature. All three judges scored it 29-28: Garth Harriman for Jumeau, Charlie Keech and Christopher Shen for Lima.
Leg kicks were the story. Lima (15-7, 4-5 UFC) buried his shin and foot into the Kiwi’s lead leg over and over again, creating visible damage and compromising his movement. Jumeau (13-5, 2-2 UFC) wobbled the Brazilian with a right uppercut in the second round but was otherwise ineffective. Lima steered clear of danger across the final five minutes, as he alternated between kicking the leg and drawing Jumeau into the clinch.
Lima, 30, has rattled off three straight victories.
De Castro One-Punch KOs Tafa
Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Yorgan De Castro remained undefeated, as he knocked out former Xtreme Fighting Championship titleholder Justin Tafa in the first round of their heavyweight showcase. Tafa (3-1, 0-1 UFC) met his end 2:10 into Round 1.
It became clear from the start that neither man intended to go the distance. Tafa engaged his counterpart in the clinch and enjoyed moderate success before separating. The 25-year-old Aussie charged forward with his hands down and walked into a devastating counter right hook from De Castro (6-0, 1-0 UFC). He was out before he hit the canvas.
De Castro has finished five of his first six opponents, four of them inside one round.
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