Israel Adesanya became the undisputed UFC middleweight champion after he knocked out Robert Whittaker in the main event of UFC 243 on Saturday.
Adesanya (18-0) appeared faster than his opponent from
the opening stanza, while Whittaker swung heavy, hoping to connect on his New Zealand-based foe.
In the closing moments of the first round, Adesanya connected and knocked Whittaker down, prompting confusion from the broadcast booth if the fight had been stopped. No knockout was ruled and Whittaker was saved by the bell.
The second round commenced with Adesanya once again finding his range and landing his jab. Both fighters landed hooks, with Adesanya connecting and Whittaker falling to the canvas. A barrage of punches from Adesanya followed, with the 30-year-old sealing the deal and getting his hand raised.
Whittaker (20-4) surrendered his middleweight title and subsequently had his nine-fight win streak snapped. The 28-year-old suffered his first loss since February 2014, which was also the last time he was knocked out in a fight. "The Reaper" also lost for the first time in the middleweight division after moving up from welterweight in November 2014. Whittaker fought for just the second time since June 2018.
Postfight, Adesanya pointed to the crowd for his next potential opponent in undefeated Brazilian fighter Paulo Costa. "The Eraser" recently defeated former title challenger Yoel Romero at UFC 241 in August and has finished nine of his 10 career opponents.
Adesanya becomes the undisputed champion in less than two years since joining the UFC in February 2018.