This past Saturday at UFC 271, we saw two massive matchups in the middleweight division. In the main event of the evening, the middleweight title was on the line as Israel Adesanya (22-1) defended against Robert Whittaker (23-6).
On the main card of UFC 271, we also saw a title elimination bout between Jared Cannonier (15-5) and Derek Brunson (23-8). This fight ended up having so many exciting turns that even people who were excited for this fight didn’t foresee happening.
In the first round, Brunson dropped Cannonier and used his wrestling to control him. Near the end of the first round, Brunson locked in a deep rear naked choke. However, the round ended and we moved to the second.
Once in the second, it was all Cannonier. Brunson looked tired and defeated that he didn’t win in the first. Cannonier capitalized and hurt Brunson badly. A flurry of brutal shots led him to the TKO win at UFC 271.
In the main event, Adesanya and Whittaker went to battle again. After their lopsided first fight, this one was much closer. However, it didn’t start that way. Adesanya controlled the first round and even dropped Whittaker.
However, Whittaker came back strong and made rounds 2-5 extremely competitive. Overall, I think Adesanya was the correct winner. However, I could even see an argument for giving Whittaker three rounds. Nevertheless, Adesanya got the decision at UFC 271 and retained his title.
Previewing UFC title fight
Dana White made it clear after the fight that Jared Cannonier would get the next shot. Adesanya agreed and said he hopes the UFC could put it together for their June PPV. Early word is that looks like the target for this matchup.
Adesanya’s last two title defenses have been rematches. However, he’s getting new blood with this UFC defense against Cannonier. Adesanya vocalized that he wanted to fight Cannonier back in 2020, but Cannonier was derailed by Whittaker.
Now, Cannonier has won two straight to earn himself a shot. Cannonier has some serious power and he definitely poses some threats to the champion. However, Stylebender should be the big favorite heading into their title fight.
In my early analysis, I’m having a hard time seeing Cannonier having success due to his struggles to get inside. I think Adesanya is going to really work the leg kicks in this one and he’s going to be hard to catch.
Whenever these two meetup at the June UFC PPV, I’m expecting Adesanya to retain his title. I’m not going to rule out anyone beating Adesanya at 185, but right now, it’s hard to see anyone doing it if Robert Whittaker can’t.