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Adesanya Defends Belt vs. Whittaker

No Middleweight in UFC History has Recaptured Championship

After over two years, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya defends his title against the man he so violently took it from Robert Whittaker. The UFC betting odds have Adesanya (21-1-0) as an even bigger favorite this time around as Whittaker (23-5-0) looks to do what no UFC middleweight has accomplished: win back his belt.

  • Date: Saturday, 10 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
  • Watch on: Pay-per-view

Israel Adesanya (C) vs Robert Whittaker

  • Weight Class: Middleweight (265)
  • Rounds: Five (Championship Main Event)
  • Moneyline: Robert Whittaker +210, Israel Adesanya -280
  • Totals: Over 4½ (-135o), Under 4½ (+105u)

Since their first bout, both Adesanya and Whittaker have won three straight fights in the division. Adesanya did lose to Jan Blachowicz in a bid for the light heavyweight belt as the larger fighter neutralized him with his wrestling. Marvin Vettori tried the same strategy but failed. Can Whittaker, a striker, be the next fighter to successfully wrestle Adesanya?

Adesanya and Whittaker Intensify Rivalry In Championship Rematch
Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP

Whittaker Has Been Lucrative Underdog

Whittaker is no stranger to being the underdog. The former champion is 6-1 as an underdog with his only defeat coming at the hands of Adesanya. As a middleweight, only the champion has bested Whittaker, though he may have something up his sleeve: wrestling.

Vettori failed to wrestle Adesanya, but did you know that Whittaker was the Australian national wrestling champion? He successfully used his wrestling offensively against Kelvin Gastelum and Darren Till and then defensively against Yoel Romero. Twice.

The game plan for Whittaker is to mix it up against Adesanya. Keep him guessing, execute takedowns and keep him there. Can Whittaker do it? Unlikely. But bet online against him at your own risk. He’s proven the odds wrong many times.

Adesanya Untouchable … Literally

Israel Adesanya is the modern-day Anderson Silva: a charismatic and stylish kickboxer who is just levels above everyone he fights. The book was out on them: wrestle them. Many have tried, and most have paid the price for attempting it. Adesanya is not short on confidence as he has a mental edge over his opponents.

The Nigerian predicts Whittaker will get flustered against him and will “revert back” to his old self. He has a point. Fighting Adesanya is like playing chess against a master and every mistake made, even if minor, can be fatal. When it comes to technique, no one can match Adesanya.

Don’t mistake Adesanya’s cockiness as weakness, either. The three-time defending champion loves to talk smack and call his shots. He has his own YouTube channel where he breaks down fights. But when it comes to fighting, it’s strictly business for him. Once he’s in the cage, he’s focused and untouchable.

Adesanya vs Whittaker II: Who Wins?

We have seen Adesanya hurt and beaten. Kelvin Gastelum almost finished him and Blachowicz defeated him. However, these fighters are different from Whittaker: One is a wild wrestle-boxer and the other is a 205er.

Whittaker was able to fight at 170 pounds and won’t have the mass to smother Adesanya. And the last time he tried to go “wildman” on Adesanya, he got smoked. Either way, the online gambling odds don’t favor Whittaker. If he chooses to fight Adesanya at range, he will get picked apart. If he fights him over-aggressively, he will get lit up. Bet confidently on the champ to defend.

Pick: Israel Adesanya -280

A better value on your bet could be to take the over 4½ rounds instead. Whittaker should be more cautious in this fight. He may get dropped once or twice, but he will be using his wrestling more than his striking. This rematch will not be as spectacular as the first and that’s why the over is the best UFC bet for this.

Pick: Over 4½ (-135)

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