This upcoming weekend has the biggest rematch the middleweight division has ever seen as Oceania’s biggest stars take to the octagon to settle the score. New Zealand’s Israel Adesanya defends his belt against the former Australian champion, Robert Whittaker in a rematch 3 years in the making. The fight between the two will be taking place in Houston, Texas, home to one of the stars in the Co-main event, Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis who will take on up and coming heavy-weight Tai Tuivasa. The main events this Saturday are sure to be ones to watch and lead to exciting outcomes in the respective divisions of each of the fighters, it will also likely give me something to write about next week.
Starting with some exciting fights on the undercard we have the first fight of the card with veteran Bobby Green taking on German Nasrat Haqparast. This fight is sure to start the night off right as the two fighters prefer to stand and trade shots. As the young and hungry Haqparast looks to climb through the lightweight rankings, he must deal with an experienced and strong Bobby Green who is coming off his own win against Al Iaquinta. Both have something to prove and will be sure to show it this weekend with a great fight.
Next up, skipping over the second fight of the night, is the third even between two high ranked middleweights and possible future title contenders. Derek Brunson, who is ranked #4, will take on #3 ranked Jared Cannonier for either a top 2 ranked spot or a possible title fight after the result of the main event fights. Derek Brunson, who is on a 5-fight win streak, will take on the ever-dangerous Jared Cannonier who used to fight at heavyweight and has made the cut down to middleweight, while still carrying the tremendous power and durability of a heavyweight. Brunson favors his ground game over the striking which may be successful against Cannonier, but his strength and power may be trouble for Brunson who has had trouble with strikers with excellent takedown offense. It lines up to be a great fight to open up the main events.
The co-main event is set to end quick as two heavyweight knockout artists aim to best the other. Houston native Derrick Lewis who holds the all-time UFC knockout record will face off against Tai Tuivasa, an Australian on a 5-fight win streak with all knockouts within the first two rounds. Both fighters carry heavy power and could switch the lights off of the other at any given moment. Ideally this fight ends quick, but if both fighters share equal respect for the other, it may be a long game of chicken to see who takes the first heavy blow. This fight would be interesting for the rankings as Tuivasa sits at #11 and Lewis at #3. A dramatic shift in the rankings with a win here and another victory might see Tuivasa earn himself a title shot in the near future. But Lewis is no slouch, the devastating power he carries has had devastating CTE consequences for many in the division as he has numerous knockout highlights and, if Tuivasa is not careful, Lewis may extend his all-time knockout record this weekend.
The final event and long-awaited rematch between middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and the former champion Robert Whittaker will top the night off in a fight that could go either way. The reigning champ has been seemingly unbeatable at middleweight, suffering his only MMA loss when he moved up to light heavyweight to face the then champion, Jan Blachowicz. Aside from that decision loss, Adesanya has done away with top contenders in Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, and Marvin Vettori, clearing out most of the division and primed to face the one man that once held UFC gold. Robert Whittaker has been hungry for his shot at the title ever since losing it to the current champion back in 2019. On his path back to a title-shot, Whittaker has done away with terrifying top contenders in Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, and Kelvin Gastelum. Whittaker has improved drastically since his last fight with Adesanya where he, self admittedly, was not fighting like himself and had ego clouding his vision. The former champ has since looked exceptionally crisp in his striking, combining combinations with both hands at feet and setting up deadly traps that have walked great fighters into dangerous territory. Along with his always tremendous chin and heart, Whittaker has improved his grappling ability as he seems to take down opponents at will using his exceptional timing coupled with the threat of his striking. The first fight ended within the early minutes of the second round, but with the performances of both fighters in their last fights and the improvements they have been able to make in the past 3 years, it is anyone’s guess as to how this fight will go. A knockout could go to either fighter. A decision could go to either fighter. It is unknown to many objective viewers exactly how this fight will go, but if my judgement is correct, this fight will be a chess match if both fighters perform to their best and has a lot of potential to be the fight of the year. This fight will be career defining for both fighters and may even set up a trilogy match depending on the outcome. I for one cannot wait and will hold my opinion as to who will win since, apparently every fighter I want to win decides to lose, which is why I do not gamble.