The UFC heads to Australia this Sunday as Melbourne's Marvel Stadium plays host to UFC 243.
In the main event, Australian middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (20-4) defends his title against undefeated challenger Israel Adesanya (17-0), while the co-main event sees lightweights Al Iaqinta and Dan Hooker of New Zealand go head to head.
Nigerian-born New Zealander Adesanya won the interim middleweight belt in April, overcoming Kelvin Gastelum via unanimous decision in a fight of the year contender, marking his sixth fight (and sixth win) since joining the UFC 14 months prior.
Contrastingly, Whittaker has been out of action for 16 months due to numerous injuries, the most recent causing his scheduled February defence against Gastelum to be cancelled. That bout's last-minute demise meant it was the second attempted title defence on home soil to fall through for Whittaker, who will be desperate to make it into (and out of) the Octagon in one piece,
Here’s everything you need to know:
When is UFC 243?
The preliminary card starts at 12am (BST), followed by the main card at 3am (BST), with the main event fight expected to begin at around 5:30am.
How can I watch it?
The event will be shown live on BT Sport 1, the BT Sport App and BTSport.com for subscribers.
Whittaker and Adesanya are among the most versatile and dangerous combatants in MMA, and the odds show that calling this one is like flipping a coin. The tall, rangy Adesanya is in the form of his life, having somehow fought and won six times in just over a year since joining the UFC's roster, and Whittaker’s last bout – 16 months ago – saw the Aussie sustain a lot of damage in his second consecutive win against middleweight monster Yoel Romero of Cuba.
That said, Gastelum – despite a significant height and reach disadvantage – was able to land regularly and heavily on Adesanya earlier this year, and should have knocked out ‘The Last Stylebender’.
Whittaker still has a shorter reach and height than his challenger on Sunday, but not as noticeably as with Gastelum. ‘The Reaper’ is also faster and more well-rounded than Gastelum. Given Gastelum damaged ‘Stylebender’ as much as he did in April, the experienced Whittaker should be able to inflict enough of an assault on Adesanya to leave Marvel Stadium with the belt still around his waist.
Expect a war, either way.
Robert Whittaker (c) vs. Israel Adesanya (ic) – middleweight championship
Al Iaquinta vs. Dan Hooker
Tai Tuivasa vs. Serghei Spivac
Luke Jumeau vs. Dhiego Lima
Justin Tafa vs. Yorgan De Castro
Jake Matthews vs. Rostam Akman
Callan Potter vs. Maki Pitolo
Megan Anderson vs. Zarah Fairn Dos Santos
Brad Riddell vs. Jamie Mullarkey
Nadia Kassem vs. Ji Yeon Kim
Khalid Taha vs Bruno Silva