UFC 243 is set to be the biggest sporting event in oceanic history with interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya challenging Australia’s first UFC champion, Robert Whittaker for the undisputed middleweight belt.
It is no surprise that this bout has garnered so much hype and excitement from fans. When it comes to sporting rivalries there may not be one more fierce than the one between Kiwis and Aussies.
The pair will go head to head on October 5th at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. With a capacity of 60,000 people, Marvel Stadium may allow UFC 243 to break the UFC live gate record.
In this article, we will examine the two very different roads these two fighters travelled upon to reach such a coveted destination.
Robert Whittaker – The Reaper
The New Zealand born yet Australian Robert “The Reaper” Whitaker faces one of his toughest challenges to date in kickboxing champion, Israel Adesanya.
Robert Whittaker has arguably had one of the toughest roads to a UFC title in the promotion’s history. It began when he won The Ultimate Fighter series earning himself a UFC contract.
Following this, he made the dive into the talent-rich sea of the UFC’s welterweight division where he found himself in deeper waters than he expected. After 2 consecutive losses, Robert had to step back and make an assessment of his defeats.
Move to Middleweight
After 8 months away Whittaker made the conscious decision to make the move to middleweight, allowing him to make weight easier and thus spend more time honing his skills and perfecting his craft in the gym.
This proved to be absolutely the right move to make as Robert has since been on a 9 fight win streak. Consisting of:
- A Brutal 44 Second Knockout Of Brad Tavares.
- A Head Kick That Dispatched Derek Brunson.
- A Display Of Technical Violence Upon Jacare Souza.
- And 2 Decision Wins Over The Fearsome Yoel Romero.
The first fight against Yoel Romero being the one in which he became the Interim Middleweight Champion. Taking into account how close the first fight was the UFC decided to put Yoel in Robert’s path once again to properly distinguish who in fact was the better fighter.
This rematch would have decided who would be the next interim middleweight champion, if not for the fact Yoel Romero was unable to make championship weight (185lb).
After a back and forth five-round war with one of the most gruelling fighters in the whole UFC Robert successfully secured a split decision victory in what was arguably a closer fight than his previous.
Whittaker became the official Middleweight Champion after the current champion at the time George St-Pierre, vacated his title and headed into retirement after an extensive career.
No one in the middleweight division was as credentialed as Whittaker when it came to the role of champion, being undefeated at middleweight and the only man in the UFC at the time to be able to beat Yoel Romero.
An Unfortunate Turn Of Events
Most recently Whittaker was scheduled to defend his title in a fight against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 however had to drop out at the last minute after a life-threatening abdominal hernia that required immediate surgery.
Robert Whittaker looks to extend his winning streak to 10 at UFC 243 and add Israel Adesanya’s name to his resume of violence.
Israel Adesanya – The Last Style Bender
After a long fighting career, only one man known as the “The Reaper” stands in the way of Israel Adesanya’s conquest for UFC gold.
Inspired by the Tv show “Avatar: The Last Stylebender” in which a young boy embarks on an adventure to master all the elements- Water, Fire, Earth and Air – Adesanya named himself after the protagonist on account of the fact of that his fighting style blends together different martial art styles to create a complete and vicious fighter.
While originally being born in Nigeria Israel’s father opted to move out of the country to New Zealand. He did this with the intention to give his children a better education from institutions abroad.
Israel Admits to having had trouble fitting into a place where it was rare finding someone who looked like him. Consequently, Adesanya was bullied for being the odd one out leading to him feeling like an outcast.
Rise Of A Star
Israel Adesanya made his first appearance in the Octagon at UFC 221 in February of 2018 and in just 6 fights has worked his way to an Interim title and now a shot at the undisputed middleweight title.
Despite being known as relatively “new” in the MMA scene Israel has a 75-5-1 record in professional kickboxing, a 6-1 record in professional boxing and most importantly a perfect 17-0 record in mixed martial arts. Making him in no way inexperienced or “the new kid on the block” especially as he is older in age (30) than his opponent Robert Whittaker (28).
Such a high amount of involvement in the world of fighting prepared Israel for the bright lights of the UFC and allowed him to carry over his flamboyant style into the octagon.
The Last Stylebenders popularity increased with each fight and for this, he has his brash and charismatic personality to thank. UFC fans took a liking to his lively fighting style which is comprised of the use of feints and rapid strikes to break apart an opponent and then go in for the kill. With the fans support, Adesanya made a swift ascension to stardom.
Adesanya maintained relevancy by fighting frequently racking up 6 fights in just over a year.
Over the course of these 6 fights, his toughest has undoubtedly been his most recent, a fight for the interim title fight against the man Whittaker was scheduled to fight at UFC 234, Kelvin Gastelum.
Israel found himself in trouble within the first few rounds and at one point was even in danger of being finished after Kelvin landed a head kick which left him stunned.
Going into the fifth both men were tied on the judge’s scorecards meaning the winner of the bout would-be determined by who stepped up and took the fifth round. Israel rose to the occasion and pressured a tired and worn-out Gastelum. Strike after strike Israel battered kelvin repeatedly knocking him to the ground.
The fight ended with Adesanya in control over Gastelum on the ground after peppering him with several combinations.
When the situation was dire Israel Adesanya proved himself to possess the heart, determination and ability to be crowned a champion.
This Fight against a top contender in Kelvin Gastelum Set The Stylebender up for a title shot against Robert Whittaker at UFC 243
With the continuation of the Aussie vs Kiwi rivalry as well as the anticipation of who will be left holding the Undisputed Middleweight belt at the end of this historic bout, UFC 243 is sure to be a record-breaking spectacle.