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UFC 271 — Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2 preview

One of the most anticipated rematches in recent memory is here when a champion and former titleholder collide in the main event of UFC 271.

Middleweight king Israel Adesanya will look to turn back the man he won the belt from, Robert Whittaker, when the two encounter inside the Toyota Center in Houston on Feb. 12.

Adesanya stopped Whittaker in Melbourne, Australia, in October 2019 to kick off his reign atop the division.

Adesanya has been absolutely sublime at middleweight, with a brief detour to the light heavyweight title picture causing the only blemish on his otherwise perfect MMA record. “The Last Stylebender” (21-1) enters this title defense with a 10-0 middleweight record, eliminating elite 185-pounders like Marvin Vettori (twice), Paulo Costa, Yoel Romero, Kelvin Gastelum, Derek Brunson and Anderson Silva. Then, of course, there is the man he rolled over to collect the UFC middleweight crown.

Whittaker (23-5) appeared poised to build himself a compelling case as UFC’s second greatest middleweight champion, just behind the legendary “Spider” Silva. That spark was short-lived after being outclassed and knocked out by Adesanya in front of Whittaker’s Australian faithful. The former champion defended his No. 1 contender’s position with consecutive victories over Gastelum, Jared Cannonier and Darren Till en route to redemption.

UFC 271’s marquee showdown offers each combatant something valuable.

For Adesanya, the opportunity to further cement his place as this generation’s greatest middleweight fighter. For “The Reaper”, a moment to reclaim his soul from the man who stripped him of it.

The dynamic between these two on the feet remains the most intriguing piece to this battle, as each can fight going forward or looking for counters, and capitalizing on mistakes will likely dictate the final result.

One interesting piece to keep tabs on is whether or not Whittaker looks to wrestle more this time around, testing out Adesanya’s takedown defense and ability to get back to his feet should he be able to put him on the canvas. Just as the first fight between the two was a captivating, must-see battle, so too is the second chapter in what feels like a story that won’t end here.

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