After years of waiting, the highly anticipated rematch between UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and former titleholder Robert Whittaker will be going down in the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. In the co-main event, an explosive matchup in the heavyweight division is set between Houston’s own Derrick Lewis, and the always exciting Tai Tuivasa.
At the pre-fight press conference for UFC 271, former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker put it best: “You can see the level difference between us (Adesanya) and the rest of the division.”
In Saturday’s main event, the two best middleweights in the world will finally face each other again in a highly anticipated rematch. The last time Adesanya and Whittaker met, the Nigeria native knocked “The Reaper” out in front of the largest crowd in UFC history to become the undisputed middleweight king. Leading up to the bout, Adesanya was as confident as could be, and in his mind, the way UFC 243 ended was inevitable.
While Adesanya entered Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia with all the confidence in the world, it was the champion, Whittaker, who was mentally feeling the pressure. Subsequently, Whittaker fought angry, and he lost the title as a result.
Whittaker may have been the champion going into UFC 243, but the popularity of his opponent was undeniable. The flashy knockouts, confidence, and showmanship displayed by Adesanya made him a huge fan favorite and a must-see fighter.
Since that night in Melbourne, Australia, Adesanya has gone on to successfully defend the title three times and the champion is as confident as ever entering his fourth title defense. But while Adesanya was defending the title, Whittaker has been clawing his way back to the top, securing three dominant decision victories over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, and Kelvin Gastelum in the process.
The biggest difference this time around? Whittaker understands the assignment and knows he has what it takes to become champion. He’s done it before, and he’s more than capable of doing it again. Easier said than done, of course, when you’re standing in front of Adesanya, who is barely entering his prime, and who is always the most confident one in the room. Remember, though, there is a reason why Whittaker was once the champion of the world.
The Clash Of The Titans
Since the early days of the UFC, the heavyweight division has always been a favorite of fight fans thanks to the brutal knockouts and larger than life personalities that have made it a must-watch division for years. Saturday’s co-main event is no different, as Derrick Lewis returns to his hometown of Houston to take on rising contender Tai Tuivasa.
Chances are, even the most casual fans of the sport have seen Lewis or Tuivasa at some point. Whether it was one of Lewis’s many devastating knockouts and hilarious moments on the microphone, or Tuivasa’s signature post-fight shoey celebration, for fans, this truly is a win-win fight.
After an unsuccessful outing against Ciryl Gane for the interim UFC heavyweight championship, Lewis has been determined to find his way back to the title picture. “The Black Beast” will be entering the Toyota Center fresh off a first-round knockout over Kyle Daukaus in December, and while many already considered him the most dangerous fighter in the UFC, Lewis made it official that night by setting the record for the most knockouts in UFC history with 13.
Tuivasa, however, is a UFC veteran, having stepped into the Octagon 10 times while only 28 years old. By his third fight, he won a unanimous decision victory over former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski. And though he had a brief rough patch, Tuivasa found his stride and is currently on a four-fight win streak. Each win has come by knockout, three of which coming in the first round.
The co-main event has everything it needs to steal the show on Saturday. Will we see Lewis deliver another highlight reel knockout and return to the title picture? Or will Tuivasa take out the most dangerous heavyweight in the game and stake his claim as a real contender for the heavyweight title?
The Happy Warrior’s Final Battle
Roxanne Modafferi | Career Retrospective
Roxanne Modafferi | Career Retrospective
In the prelims for UFC 271, mixed martial arts veteran Roxanne Modafferi makes her final walk as a fighter. On Saturday night, in her 46th career fight against Casey O’Neill, Modafferi will be retiring after competing for nearly a decade.
It’s a bittersweet moment for Modafferi, but it’s a decision she knew she was ready to make. The legacy Modafferi is leaving behind is undeniable. “The Happy Warrior” always lived up to her nickname, as she always seemed to love her job. From paying homage to her favorite anime characters at weigh-ins, to being a true example of a mixed martial artist, Modafferi will truly be missed by fans.
While this may be Modafferi’s farewell fight, she’ll have a tough challenge in O’Neill Saturday night. O’Neill, who is only 24 years old, is an undefeated contender chasing greatness. Three of her last four wins have come by knockout, with the other by submission. With her most recent victory over Antonina Shevchenko, O’Neill will make Modafferi’s happy farewell a hard earned one.
UFC 271: Adesanya vs Whittaker 2 took place on Saturday, February 12, 2022, live from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive all of the action on UFC Fight Pass.