UFC 243 tips: Best bets for Whittaker v Adesanya
Jack Green provides his UFC tips for Saturday night's middleweight unification bout in Melbourne, plus another big fight from the card.
ROBERT WHITTAKER V ISRAEL ADESANYA
What a fight.
Two of the most likeable, exciting fighters in the UFC meet on Saturday night in a middleweight title unification bout.
Whittaker, the current champion, hasn’t fought since he came through back-to-back wars with Yoel Romero.
The Australian battled back to win the first of those bouts despite suffering a leg injury in the first round, and showed incredible heart in the rematch to hold off a late Romero charge and edge a split decision.
Whittaker hasn’t lost since he was stopped by Stephen Thompson in 2014, a run that spans nine fights and four victories by knockout.
He’s proven that he can beat anyone at middleweight, and the only real concern on Saturday night is how he’s been affected by the 16-month layoff as well as the hernia he suffered in February.
Adesanya will take advantage of any weakness in Whittaker.
The Nigerian has won all 17 of his professional fights and along with the interim title by beating Kelvin Gastelum on points in April.
Like Whittaker, Adesanya showed huge heart in that bout, grinding out the victory after almost being knocked out by the heavy-handed American.
Adesanya is one of the most unorthodox fighters in the UFC. He uses his 80-inch reach to control fights from the outside and also has tremendous power, with 13 KO wins to date.
The only knock against him is that he is yet to face a truly great middleweight at their peak, and that’s perhaps what separates these two fighters.
While Whittaker has proven that he can beat the best, Adesanya showed his inexperience against Gastelum by trying to walk through the American’s attacks, and was nearly beaten as a result.
Assuming he is at his best physically, Whittaker should be able to use his superior fight craft to hold off Adesanya early on before coming on strong in the later rounds to eke out a win.
Whittaker to win
AL IAQUINTA V DANIEL HOOKER
Hooker can establish himself as a lightweight contender by beating fan favourite Iaquinta on Saturday night.
The New Zealander has been on an impressive run over the past two years, winning five of his last six fights, including a first-round KO of James Vick in July.
Iaquinta moved back into the spotlight with a spirited performance in a defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov in April 2018, and followed that up with a win over Kevin Lee.
The American did lose to Donald Cerrone in May, however, and could struggle against another tall fighter who uses his range well.
Hooker likes to come forward and pressure his opponents, but he has shown the ability in the past couple of years to fight on the back foot and pick his opponents apart, a tactic that should earn him the decision against Iaquinta.
Hooker to win by decision
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