Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya vs. Robert “the Reaper” Whittaker Odds
The fight world is abuzz ahead of the UFC’s next great rumble down under. UFC 243: Whittaker vs. Adesanya is set to take place at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia Oct. 6. Interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is betting on himself, but should you do the same?
Adesanya’s confidence is, in part, due to an advantage when it comes to both height and reach. He also leads in almost every category when the fights stay upright. He’s 11% more accurate with his striking than Whittaker, has a 4% edge in significant strikes absorbed, and a 2.49 to 3.65 advantage in significant strikes absorbed according to UFC Stats.
The New Zealander said during a media conference call Wednesday, “He’s a guy I can pick apart easily. He just does what he does very well. There’s only a certain amount of awkwardness that he has that I haven’t seen before, but he can try to prove me wrong. From what I see, though, I’ll pick him apart quite easily.”
This bout shouldn’t be expected to go to the ground. Adesanya has remained mostly untested in the grappling department. He averages 0.5 submission attempts per 15 minutes, has zero takedowns on the books in the same timespan and 85% takedown defense to his opponent’s 84%.
Adesanya is undefeated at 15-0-0. However, “Bobby Knuckles” aka “The Reaper” Whittaker has not lost a fight since debuting a middleweight in November 2014. The belief of some is the champion may be injury-prone.
Will Cage Rust Be the Deciding Factor Down Under
USA Today’s MMA Junkie reported Whittaker has fought just twice, a pair of bouts against Yoel Romero, in 29 months. Whittaker said during the conference call he has been doing his best to combat “cage rust.”
The champion said late last month, “I’ve been competing in jiu-jitsu, I’ve been competing in wrestling, I’ve been sparring in ways to increase the pressure and feel that. There’s ways to combat that. I also think once you reach a certain level – I know what to do. I’ve been there before, I’ve felt the pressure before, and I know that come October I’m going to walk in there and do my best.”
His medical troubles included knee issues, chickenpox, and a hernia which required emergency surgery.
“I feel absolutely amazing,” Whittaker said. “After that emergency surgery, I just doubled down on my health. I put full attention on how I’m feeling, how I’m performing and just my overall health. On the back of that, I’ve become stronger.”
Adesanya hasn’t just remained more active than Whittaker. His last performance, a five-round masterpiece against Kelvin Gastelum showed he can take power shots. Whittaker and Gastelum may have different levels of power behind their punches but they are comparable in regard to finish rates. Sherdog.com has Whittaker at 20-4-0 with a 70% rate while Gastelum is 15-4 with one no contest and a 67% finish rate.
The big question we can’t answer is if “The Last Stylebender” can withstand Whittaker’s power. Another question is whether or not that very power will come back to haunt Whittaker.
He may be perfectly healthy now but in his rematch against Romero, he suffered a broken hand in the opening round. Not to discredit the effort, but Romero also has a history of gassing (like in his most recent outing against Paulo Costa) which could have helped despite the injury.
If he does withstand the big shots he will inevitably take, we think Adesanya will accomplish what he feels is destiny. Costa will be waiting.
“I’m really rooting for Adesanya to win,” Costa told MMA Fighting. “I think it’s going to be really tough, I don’t think he gets past (Whittaker), but I’m asking God for him to win because I would really love to win the belt by beating him up.
Prediction: Israel Adesanya by decision