The two best middleweights in MMA are set to fight in a title unification bout this fall.
According to a report from Raphael Marinho of Combate, UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will take on interim UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in the main event of UFC 243, which takes place October 6 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. It is the biggest fight in MMA history between fighters from Australia and New Zealand.
The report says that the UFC planned to have the card in Sydney, but the National Rugby League final had already booked the venue there and so the UFC decided to hold the card in Melbourne instead. The report also says the UFC considered shifting the fight to Las Vegas, but ultimately decided this is a fight that needed to take place in Australia.
The arena in Melbourne where this fight is set to take place, Marvel Stadium, previously held UFC 234 earlier this year, where Adesanya defeated Anderson Silva in the main event. Adesanya then fought Kelvin Gastelum for the interim belt at UFC 236 and won, and he now he gets to fight Whittaker with the right to become undisputed middleweight champion on the line.
Robert Whittaker (20-4) is currently riding a nine-fight win streak that includes back-to-back wins over Yoel Romero, plus victories over the likes of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Derek Brunson and Uriah Hall. The 28-year-old New Zealand-born Australian has not competed since a June 2018 split decision win over Romero and thus will be coming off of a long layoff into this fight with Adesanya. But the TUF Smashes winner has proven time and time again he is an incredible talent, and despite the long layoff you can’t count the champ out here.
Israel Adesanya (17-0) is 6-0 so far in the UFC and most recently won the interim belt with a unanimous decision win over Gastelum at UFC 236 in one of the best MMA fights of all time. The 29-year-old Nigerian-born native of New Zealand only began fighting in the UFC in 2018 but has quickly become one of the promotion’s biggest stars. He is on the brink on superstardom, and a win over Whittaker would certainly help get him there.
There are betting odds already available for this fight. Whittaker is currently a -140 betting favorite, while Adesanya is a +120 betting underdog. However, that line could very well flip the closer we get to the fight. On paper, it’s a very close fight that could go either way.
Who do you think wins, Robert Whittaker or Israel Adesanya?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/20/2019.