With over 57,000 fans in attendance, Israel Adesanya capped off an unbelievable start to his ufc career by knocking out Robert Whittaker in the second round to become the undisputed middleweight champion.
UFC 243 had been touted for months as one of the biggest cards in history with the show taking place inside Marvel Stadium, which was the same site where Ronda Rousey suffered her first defeat when Holly Holm landed the head kick heard round the world.
Adesanya earned a second-round knockout over a highly respected champion in Robert Whittaker but a deeper dive into his overall performance shows the kind of dominance he displayed in victory.
Whittaker, who came out swinging hammers from the first second of the fight until the last, landed just 27 percent of his strikes as Adesanya displayed cat-like defense to constantly get out of the way before his opponent could hit him. Even the shots that did manage to connect were only glancing blows as Adesanya was able to deflect almost all of the damage Whittaker attempted to inflict.
He sat back and waited for Whittaker to attack as he timed his punches to pick him apart in nearly every exchange. After landing a last-second knockdown to end the opening round, Adesanya knew it was just a matter of time before he made Whittaker paid for his aggression again.
The end came in the second round as Whittaker continued to pursue a knockout of his own only to get caught with a quick right followed by a devastating left from Adesanya. It was a flawless performance from the now undisputed middleweight champion as Adesanya becomes the first person to hand Whittaker a loss at 185 pounds in addition to solidifying himself as the best fighter in the division.
Adesanya touting himself as a future champion irritated a lot of the fighters at middleweight as he continued to rise up the ranks, but winning in a five-round war with Kelvin Gastelum
This is the kind of massive rivalry fight the middleweight division has needed and Adesanya will provide that in his first title defense. Adesanya knew it and capitalized on a captive audience to begin building towards that fight just moments after the biggest win of his entire career.
Wins over Jim Miller, Gilbert Burns and James Vick were all impressive but it was tough to forget Hooker getting dismantled by Edson Barboza just two fights ago in his first opportunity to move up the rankings.
Beating Al Iaquinta at UFC 243 helped to solidify Hooker as a serious threat to anybody occupying a spot at the top of the lightweight division. Perhaps the best part about his performance is that Hooker was tactical in his execution of a game plan that saw him decimate Iaquinta during nearly every exchange. That kind of precision was lacking in some of his past performances where Hooker seemed willing to take two punches in order to return one of his own.
He also had a smart call out afterwards by asking to fight former interim champion Dustin Poirier
While he may not get Poirier as his next opponent, Hooker seems poised for a big jump in the rankings and only a few names sitting ahead of him before he can enter the title talk conversation.
Un Fun Championship
Afterwards, Adesanya revealed that he wanted to do something similar for his fight against Kelvin Gastelum back in April, but the UFC shot down his idea. Thankfully this time around, UFC president Dana White reportedly gave his own personal approval to allow Adesanya the chance to orchestrate the entrance that got the crowd even more hyped for the main event.
Not every card will enjoy three title fights like UFC 245 in December and Masvidal vs. Diaz is a main event built for a major American city like new york but it still seems like the Australians deserved a little bit more, especially considering the promotion was trying to sell out a 60,000-seat stadium.