This was Israel Adesanya's moment. The Last Style Bender had the opportunity to make history and complete a meteoric rise in the biggest fight in Australian MMA when the interim middleweight champion faced 185-pound titlist Robert Whittaker for the undisputed middleweight title at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
Adesanya showed why is most certainly the next big thing in the UFC by planting a counter left hook on the whiskers of his Aussie foe in the second round that spelled Whittaker's demise and made the 30-year-old the undisputed middleweight champion less than two years after his debut with the promotion. Sporting News had the fight scored 10-9 for Adesanya at the time of the stoppage, which came at the 3:33 mark of the round.
"Like I said, I was in the nose bleeds, and now I made his nose bleed," Adesanya (18-0) said in his post-fight interview.
The first round was nip and tuck with Adesanya and Whittaker landing their fair share of clean shots. Whittaker had a slight advantage heading into the conclusion of the round due to his accuracy.
With the round coming to a close, Adesanya changed the complexion of the bout as a Whittaker right hand grazed Adesanya with a right hand, and was countered with a short right hook that sent Whittaker to the canvas at the end of the round.
A staggered Whittaker (21-5) barely made it back to his corner. From the looks of things, it only appeared to be a matter of time before Adesanya put him away.
The second round was playing out much like the first, except it was Adesanya who was landing with more frequency. Anytime Whittaker would connect, Adesanya would blast the former champion with a harder shot.
It all stopped when Whittaker attempted a left hook, but the Nigerian who resides in New Zealand got there first with a picture-perfect left hook counter that send Whittaker staggering backward. Adesanya chased his wounded prey to the mat but it was all for naught as the fight was halted to signal that there was a new sheriff in the middleweight division.
The next challenge for Adesanya looks to be set as No. 2-ranked contender Paulo Costa was in the crowd to observe the main event.
Adesanya didn't hold back on his words for Costa by calling him an "overly inflated balloon animal", which is a reference to Costa's bulky physique.
Here is what happened at UFC 243.
UFC 243 live results, updates
Israel Adesanya finishes Robert Whittaker to become the UFC middleweight champion
12:43 a.m.: Adesanya def. Whittaker by knockout at 3:33 of the second round to become the undisputed middleweight champion.
Whittaker hit Adesanya with a left hand, missed with a right. Whittaker went for a left hook but Adesanya stuck first with a right hook and put Whittaker away with a left hook. Adesanya rushed in, threw a couple more shots and it was called off and an undisputed champion is crowned.
Round 1: An action-packed round that leaned towards Whittaker due to his heavy strikes until right at the bell when Whittaker glazed Adesanya with a right hand but Adesanya connected on a counter right hook to drop the champion. Another couple seconds and it would have been over. Whittaker's in trouble. (Adesanya 10-9).
12:17 a.m.: It is now time for the co-main event of UFC 243 as 185-pound titlist Robert Whittaker battles interim champion Israel Adesanya. This is the first time Whittaker (21-4) has competed since UFC 225 in June 2018 when he beat Yoel Romero in one of the best fights of the year.
Adesanya's (17-0) taken the MMA world by storm including a win over Anderson Silva at UFC 234 and then capturing the interim belt in one of the premier fights of 2019, defeating Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236.
You can feel the electricity in the air. Something has to give. It has the makings of a classic. Is Adesanya ready to go to the next level? Or does Whittaker continue to reign on top of the division?
Dan Hooker dominates Al Iaquinta to win decision
12:06 a.m.: Hooker def. Iaquinta (30-26, 30-27, 30-27).
What a performance by Hooker. He dominated from the opening bell on the feet with leg kicks which forced Iaquinta to switch to a southpaw stance that made "Ragin Al" ineffective. He stuffed takedowns, reversed positions and never let Iaquinta even get into the fight to win the lopsided decision.
Hooker now goes to 6-1 since moving to 155 pounds. You have to be impressed by Hooker calling in his shot by challenging recent title challenger Dustin Poirier. Whether he gets that fight is another story but you have to appreciate the guts in making the callout. It would be a fun fight and one that could and should be made.
11:40 p.m.: It is time for the co-main event at UFC 243, No. 6-ranked Al Iaquinta battles No. 15-ranked Dan Hooker in lightweight action. Iaquinta (14-5-1) is on a bit of a skid losing two of his last three including a lightweight title fight to current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Hooker's (19-8) on a great run, having won five of his last six with all of those wins coming via stoppage.
If you're expecting this one to end up in a decision, think again. They are going to be coming out and looking to bang and go for the finish.
Sergey Spivac pulls off upset to tap out Tai Tuivasa
11:30 p.m.: Spivac def. Tuivasa by submission (arm-triangle choke) at 3:14 of the second round.
You couldn't ask for a better performance from Spivac. He understood Tuivasa had the advantage in the striking department so that way and brought the fight to mat. His judo throws were a thing of beauty that helped lead to the finish. Another judo throw immediately allowed Spivac to be in side control and against the cage so he could control where the action was going to go.
He was able to slowly lock in the choke. When Tuivasa tried to shift, Spivac firmly secured it to score the submission to get back in the winner's circle.
Tuivasa needs to reevaluate where his career is headed. He's now lost three in a row and in MMA that's not the place where you want to be.
11:20 p.m.: Spivac with an impressive five takedowns in the first round. Tuivasa needs to keep throwing instead of letting Spivac close the distance to able to secure a takedown.
11:14 p.m.: Coming up at UFC 243, Sergey Spivak squares off against No. 14-ranked Tai Tuivasa in heavyweight action. Spivac (9-1) suffered the first loss of his career in his last fight in May by first-round TKO to Walt Harris. Tuivasa (9-2) looks to get back on track, as he's lost back-to-back fights to former champion Junior dos Santos and then most recently, Blagoy Ivanov at UFC 238.
This is a typical grappler vs. striker type of matchup. Who can implement their style and garner a much-needed win?
Dhiego Lima puts on a striking display to win over Luke Jumeau to run win streak to three
11:00 p.m.: Lima def. Jumeau by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28).
Whoever scored the fight for Jumeau needs a pair of glasses. Did they go to the bathroom? Were they looking at their cell phones? It was pretty obvious Lima won all three rounds. He was more active, threw more punches and connected on the crisper strikes. Lima mixed it up throughout by using kicks and punches to keep Jumeau off balance and never let him get going.
Lima's now on a three-fight winning streak. That should get him into the top-15 or near that mark to start earning significant fights to see if he break from the pack at 170 pounds.
10:35 p.m.: Right now at UFC 243, Luke Jumeau faces Dhiego Lima in welterweight action. After losing three in a row, Lima's (16-7) bounced back with back-to-back wins including a unanimous decision nod over Court McGee in April. Jumeau (13-4) returns from a 20-month layoff having last competed at UFC 221 in February 2018 in Australia, beating Daichi Abe via unanimous decision.
An intriguing bout with two guys looking to breakthrough in a talent-rich division.
Yorgan De Castro blasts through Justin Tafa to earn first UFC win
10:29 p.m.: De Castro def. Tafa by knockout at 2:10 of the first round.
What a way to begin the UFC 243 main card. Both guys were tentative to begin the action. That changed quickly, as Tafa tried to square up and walked into throwing an overhand right hand but De Castro backed a tad and blasted Tafa with vicious overhand right of his own to instantly knockout Tafa and score his first UFC win. Great emotion by De Castro in his post-fight interview. You could feel the genuine excitement in his voice. Couldn’t ask for a better start to his UFC career.
— UFC (@ufc) October 6, 2019
10:15 p.m.: Kicking off the main card of UFC 243, Yorgan De Castro meets Justin Tafa in heavyweight action. Tafa (3-0) comes in making his UFC debut. The training partner of former heavyweight title challenger Mark Hunt has won all three of those fights by knockout. De Castro (5-0) also is making his octagon debut. He got the invitation into the UFC by finishing Sanford Alton Meeks on an episode of the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series in June.
Interesting choice to begin the show between two unknowns with limited professional fighting experience. Don't expect it to last long.
10:00 p.m. ET: Welcome to Sporting News' live coverage of UFC 243. The event is highlighted by middleweight champion Robert Whittaker taking on interim titleholder Israel Adesanya with the winner becoming the undisputed champion. Grab the refreshments, go to the bathroom and get locked into what is expected to be an exciting night of action.
UFC 243 undercard results
Megan Anderson def. Zarah Fairn via submission (triangle choke) at 3:57 of the first round; Women's Featherweight
Ji Yeon Kim def. Nadia Kassem by TKO at 4:59 of the second round; Women's Strawweight
Khalid Taha def. Bruno Silva via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 3:00 of the third round
Callan Potter def. Maki Pitolo by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28); Welterweight
Jake Matthews def. Rostem Akman via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27); Welterweight
Brad Riddell def. Jamie Mullarkey by unanimous decision (29-27, 30-26, 30-26); Lightweight
UFC 243 fight card
Robert Whittaker vs. Israel Adesanya for the undisputed Middleweight championship
Al Iaquinta vs. Dan Hooker; Lightweight
Sergey Spivak vs. Tai Tuivasa; Heavyweight
Luke Jumeau vs. Dhiego Lima; Welterweight
Yorgan De Castro vs. Justin Tafa; Heavyweight
Rostem Akman vs. Jake Matthews; Welterweight
Maki Pitolo vs. Callan Potter; Welterweight
Megan Anderson vs. Zarah Fairn dos Santos; Women's Featherweight
Jamie Mullarkey vs. Brad Riddell; Lightweight
Nadia Kassem vs. Ji Yeon Kim; Women's Strawweight
Bruno Silva vs. Khalid Taha; Bantamweight
UFC 243 latest news
- In the mood to make a few bucks? Here are the latest odds and who wins the main event between Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya.
- Don't know how to watch UFC 243? SN has all the info you need to watch the action from "Down Under."