UFC 271 Recap and Predictions

The Ultimate Fighting Championship returned to the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas to a sold-out crowd of 17,872 people. The pay-per view main card featured epic knockouts, dramatic submissions and a battle for the middleweight championship.

In the main-event slot, the undisputed world champion, Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya (21-1) faced off against Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker (23-5). In the previous meeting between the two, Adesanya put on a show in Australia to defeat the Aussie, Whittaker, via second round knockout. Two years later, after three big wins over top contenders in the division, Whittaker earned his second shot and the middleweight crown. In the first round, both fighters came out with patience, however, Adesanya came out with a flurry of hard leg kicks and ended the round with a straight left that sat Whittaker down. Whittaker looked like he’d given up during the break and his years of hard work were not going to pay off. Throughout the remainder of the five-round fight, Whittaker displayed his takedowns which he clearly has improved over the last couple fights. However, Adesanya also worked on his takedown defense and shot right back up to his feet. Adesanya’s slick movement in the cage as well as accurate striking earned Adesanya an unanimous decision victory (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) over Whittaker. 

Well, after securing his fourth title defense, what is next for Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya? Jared Cannonier. In the same card as Adesanya, Cannonier and Derek Brunson, the third and fourth ranked contender in the middleweight division faced off in what likely would be the fight to be next in line for the title. Cannonier is 5-1 since joining the middleweight division, defeating contenders like Kelvin Gastelum, Jack Hermanssonn, and Anderson Silva. His only loss was to Whittaker via unanimous decision in 2019. In his fight against Brunson, Cannonier had a tough first round. Brunson landed a late takedown and got Cannonier in a rear naked choke to end the round. However, Cannonier rallied back in the second and displayed his striking abilities with a high volume of elbows. Cannonier knocked Brunson down and overwhelmed him with his “ground and pound”. This got the referee to call off the fight. The UFC President, Dana White stated, “It was an awesome fight and yeah, I’m not gonna say ‘no’ to Cannonier.” Cannonier’s aggressive offense can make his fight very interesting if he does go up against Adesanya.”

As for Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker, where does he go from here? Well, he has lost to Adesanya twice and both were for the championship. Whittaker is so dominant against other fighters in the division, but Adesanya’s game is even better. If I had to group the division by leagues, Adesanya and Whittaker would each be in their own divisions and then the rest of the middleweights follow. Whittaker would most likely be the champion right now if Adesanya was not here. Even though it is rare for fighters to fight a third time with the first two fights going one way, especially when both were title fights, there is a possibility that in the next two to three years, and if Whittaker continues to dominate the competition, Whittaker can find himself back in a main event against Adesanya for the middleweight title once again. There are rumors that are saying that Whittaker should move down to the welterweight division and try to win the championship there, however, the drop in weight is too much and I don’t think Whittaker would want to cut that much weight. I would like to see Whittaker fight against Marvin Vettori, the number two ranked middleweight contender, and fight for the number two ranked spot in the rankings. 

Here are some predictions for the upcoming UFC Main Events:

UFC 272: Jorge Masvidal vs Colby Covington: Colby Covington — Unanimous Decision

UFC Fight Night Santos vs Ankalaev: Magomed Ankalaev — Unanimous Decision

UFC Fight Night Volkov vs Aspinall: Tom Aspinall — KO/TKO R2

UFC Fight Night Blaydes vs Daukaus: Curtis Blaydes — KO/TKO R1