Robert Whittaker will have the chance to regain champion status on Saturday night when facing current titleholder Israel Adesanya in a rematch. Their fight for the UFC Middleweight Championship is set to headline UFC 271, which will take place at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, USA.
Follow along throughout the evening for updates on the event.
Early Prelims (6:00PM EST / 5:00PM CST) (UFC Fight Pass)
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EST / 7:00PM CST) (ESPN2 / TSN 5)
Main Card (10:00PM EST / 9:00PM CST) (PPV)
Bout 14: Israel Adesanya (21-1) vs. Robert Whittaker (23-5) (UFC Middleweight Championship)
Adesanya Fights Five Round Against Improved Whittaker, Takes Decision Win
Israel Adesanya went five rounds against Robert Whittaker in their rematch, prevailing in a unanimous decision result to retain his UFC Middleweight Championship (48-47, 48-47 & 49-46).
Adesanya had a much more hard-fought battle against Whittaker compared to their first meeting in 2019. The victory on Saturday night for Adesanya saw him have better striking and avoid some of the wrestling attempts from Whittaker.
Adesanya scored his sole knockdown of the fight three minutes in, dropping Whittaker with a straight left. Whittaker was quick to return to his feet, although he remained on the retreat for the rest of the round.
Whittaker showed signs of life after a rough first round, upping his output of strikes and securing a takedown on Adesanya in the second round. However, Adesanya continued to succeed with his striking as well.
Whittaker succeeded for moments with his wrestling, as he got Adesanya down at times. However, Whittaker often struggled at keeping Adesanya on the ground after scoring a takedown.
Whittaker was able to mount the back of Adesanya briefly in the fourth round after scoring a takedown. Adesanya quickly escaped this position, allowing the rest of the frame to be a stand-up exchange.
Most of the fight took place on the feet, where punches and frequent leg kicks put him ahead of Whittaker.
Adesanya’s first win over Whittaker in 2019 saw him score a second-round stoppage victory.
“I knew he was going to bring everything ’cause last time I took everything away from him. So he had nothing to lose,” said Adesanya, reflecting on how Whittaker’s style changed from the first fight to the second.
Whittaker mentioned after the fight that he thought his performance would get him to a win.
“I’m gutted. I thought I did enough,” he said.
Adesanya has now defended his UFC Middleweight Championship four times since taking it off Whittaker in 2019. His previous fight was a decision victory over Marvin Vettori via unanimous decision.
Bout 13: Derrick Lewis (26-8) vs. Tai Tuivasa (14-3) (Heavyweight)
Tuivasa Knocks Lewis Out To Jump Up Heavyweight Ranks
Tai Tuivasa had a massive leap up the heavyweight rankings in Saturday night’s co-main event, scoring a second-round knockout over former title challenger Derrick Lewis.
Tuivasa put Lewis out with an elbow during an exchange in the second round. This shot made Lewis slowly crumble to the canvas, causing the fight to end only seconds later.
Tuivasa’s victory came after a wild round-and-a-half of striking that saw both fighters get rocked at times due to punches.
Tuivasa now has an impressive string of five consecutive finish victories. His last performance was also a big win, defeating Augusto Sakai in December.
This week, Tuivasa was ranked 11th in the UFC heavyweight division. He is expected to move numerous spots in the division now, as Lewis was 3rd in the weight class on Saturday.
Bout 12: Jared Cannonier (14-5) vs. Derek Brunson (23-7) (Middleweight)
Cannonier Stakes Claim For Title Shot Following Win Over Brunson
Jared Cannonier scored a stoppage win against Derek Brunson on Saturday night, potentially lining him up as the next challenger for the UFC Middleweight Championship.
The win from Cannonier came in the second round, emerging victorious after a scary opening round for him.
Brunson dropped Cannonier late in the first round with a right hook. He then took the back of Cannonier, where he attempted a rear naked choke until the round expired. It was possible that Cannonier was saved by the bell in this situation.
In the second round, things changed.
Brunson was visibly hurt by an elbow while in a clinch position. Cannonier was then able to follow up on this with punches that backed Brunson up and eventually brought him to the ground.
The fight was stopped after Cannonier knocked Brunson out with a series of hard elbows on the ground.
Cannonier entered the fight ranked third in the middleweight division. He asked for a title fight after his win.
“Dana [White], I get the shot next,” said Cannonier in his post-fight interview.
Cannonier’s previous victory was a five-round win over Kelvin Gastelum.
Brunson entered Saturday on an extensive five-fight winning streak, including two main event wins from last year.
Bout 11: Alexander Hernandez (13-4) vs. Renato Moicano (15-4-1) (Lightweight)
Moicano Hurts Hernandez With Strikes, Ends Bout With Choke
Renato Moicano earned another submission win on Saturday night, catching Alexander Hernandez in the second round with a rear naked choke.
Before Moicano caused Hernandez to tap with a choke, he set it up with strikes on the feet.
Moicano first rocked Hernandez with a three-punch combination while leaving a clinch position. He continued to pelt him with shots, eventually taking him down in the process.
Moicano took the back of Hernandez on the ground, allowing him to apply a rear naked choke and end the fight.
Hernandez was coming off a stoppage win that he scored against Mike Breeden in October.
Bout 10: Nasrat Haqparast (13-4) vs. Bobby Green (28-12-1) (Lightweight)
Green Shuts Out Haqparast With Decision Win
Bobby Green had a near-perfect performance against Nasrat Haqparast to open the main card, using his striking skills to win via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).
Green utilized distance to defeat Haqparast, connecting with a high volume of jabs and hooks. Haqparast frequently advanced on the feet against him, although Green was able to back up and land with punches while doing so.
Green earned a stoppage win in his previous fight, stopping Al Iaquinta in the first round of a bout.
Haqparast has now lost two consecutive fights. His previous bout was a decision loss to Dan Hooker in September.
Bout 9: Andrei Arlovski (32-20) vs. Jared Vanderaa (12-6) (Heavyweight)
Veteran Arlovski Defeats Vanderaa To Continue Momentum
Veteran Andrei Arlovski continued his winning streak in the final prelim, defeating Jared Vanderaa via split decision (29-28 Arlovski, 29-28 Vanderaa & 29-28 Arlovski).
Arlovski’s ability to out-land Vanderaa in the first and second rounds of the fight allowed him to get the decision nod. Vanderaa was able to take the final round of the fight by upping his tempo against a tiring Arlovski, although it was too late by then.
Arlovski now has a strong three-fight winning streak. He scored two victories last year, defeating Chase Sherman and Carlos Felipe on scorecards.
Vanderaa has now lost three of his four UFC bouts. He was finished in his previous fight, getting stopped by undefeated heavyweight Alexandr Romanov last year.
Bout 8: Roxanne Modafferi (25-19) vs. Casey O’Neill (8-0) (Flyweight)
Modafferi Puts On Close Battle Against Rising O’Neill In Retirement Performance
MMA pioneer Roxanne Modafferi had her final pro fight on Saturday’s prelims, losing a split decision to undefeated prospect Casey O’Neill (29-28 O’Neill, 29-28 Modafferi & 29-28 O’Neill).
O’Neill was expected by many to pull out a win, although Modafferi was able to give her a big challenge in the fight.
Modafferi was willing to exchange stand-up strikes with O’Neill. While O’Neill landed a higher volume of shots and was the clear winner by the end, Modafferi was able to keep up and land hard shots at times.
The fight marked the end of a storied MMA career for Modafferi that lasted over a decade.
“I’m okay with that last fight. I gave everything I had. It’s time for me to pass that torch to the next generation,” said Modafferi in her post-fight interview. “Even if you don’t win every time, you can still have an amazing time.”
Modafferi debuted in the early 2000s, competing long before UFC hosted fights between women. She became a regular on the UFC roster in 2017 and is finishing her run in the promotion with a record of four wins and six losses.
O’Neill now has a flawless pro record of nine wins. Her performance on Saturday was the first time she went the distance through four UFC fights.
Bout 7: Kyler Phillips (9-2) vs. Marcelo Rojo (16-7) (Bantamweight)
Phillips Submits Rojo Late For 10th Pro Win
Kyler Phillips had a dominant performance against Marcelo Rojo on Saturday night, submitting him in the third round with an armbar.
Phillips was able to catch Rojo with the armbar while on his back in the final round. This came just after he had dominated in previous rounds.
Phillips had a comfortable lead heading into the final round, as sharp striking in the first and second rounds gave him a comfortable lead in the fight.
Phillips’ pro record now has double-digit wins. He took his first UFC loss in his previous fight getting beat by Raulian Paiva last year.
Rojo has now lost two UFC fights. His debut last year was a finish loss to Charles Jourdain.
Bout 6: Carlos Ulberg (3-1) vs. Fabio Cherant (7-3) (Light Heavyweight)
Ulberg Defeats Cherant For First UFC Win
Carlos Ulberg picked up his first UFC win on Saturday night, defeating Fabio Cherant via unanimous decision after three rounds of striking (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).
Ulberg had the better striking in the fight, utilizing his reach and height advantage to land get the better of exchanges.
Ulberg took his first loss in his UFC debut last year, getting stopped by Kennedy Nzechukwu.
Cherant is now winless through three fights in the UFC. His two previous fights in the promotion only lasted a round, getting submitted and stopped.
Bout 5: Ronnie Lawrence (7-1) vs. Mana Martinez (9-2) (Bantamweight)
Lawrence Escapes Scary Third Round To Take Decision Against Martinez
Ronnie Lawrence avoided late trouble against Mana Martinez to secure a unanimous decision victory on the prelims (29-27, 29-27 & 29-28).
Lawrence dominated Martinez for most of the fight, dropping him numerous times with strikes. He was also able to control Martinez on the ground, landing shots in positions.
Martinez had a flash of brilliance late in the fight, flooring Lawrence with a combination of strikes. He then remained active on the ground, threatening Lawrence with an armbar at one point.
Lawrence won his UFC debut last year, stopping Vince Cachero with punches.
Martinez was also coming off a UFC victory, defeating Guido Cannetti via split decision in August.
Bout 4: Jacob Malkoun (5-1) vs. AJ Dobson (6-0) (Middleweight)
Malkoun Takes Decision Win Against Dobson
Jacob Malkoun handed UFC newcomer AJ Dobson his first pro loss, defeating him via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
The outcome continued a theme of comebacks tonight.
Dobson started the fight with a strong opening round, using his stand-up striking skills to control Malkoun.
Malkoun then had an incredibly dominant 10 minutes between the second and third rounds, taking Dobson down and frequently landing ground and pound shots. That was enough to get him the decision nod.
Malkoun now has two wins in the UFC. He earned his first victory for the promotion last year, going to a decision against Abdul Razak Alhassan.
Dobson was making his UFC debut with an undefeated record of six wins. He earned a UFC contract in September, defeating Hashem Arkhagha on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”
Bout 3: Douglas Silva de Andrade (27-4) vs. Sergey Morozov (17-4) (Bantamweight)
Silva de Andrade Makes Comeback To Submit Morozov
Douglas Silva de Andrade had an impressive comeback on the prelims, battling past a damaging first round to submit Sergey Morozov with a rear naked choke.
Morozov scored a knockdown in the second minute with a right uppercut. The fight then went to the ground, where Silva de Andrade was cut open by ground and pound strikes. While the fight became bloody, the bleeding didn’t go into his eye and wasn’t a threat to the fight ending.
Silva de Andrade made a comeback in the second round, stunning Morozov then dropping him with a right hook. Morozov was floored again just a minute later, was Silva de Andrade connected with a shot to the body and then an overhand right.
Silva de Andrade continued to pour it into a hurt Morozov, taking his back on the ground after hurting him with a spinning backfist. He eventually slipped in a rear naked choke that put Morozo to sleep and finished the fight.
Silva de Andrade is now on a two-fight winning streak. He scored a finish win in his previous fight as well, stopping Gaetano Pirrello with punches.
Morozov was coming off a decision win against Khalid Taha.
Bout 2: Jeremiah Wells (9-2-1) vs. Blood Diamond (3-0) (Welterweight)
Wells Submits UFC Newcomer Diamond Early
Jeremiah Wells spoiled the UFC debut of Blood Diamond, putting him to sleep late in the first round with a rear naked choke.
Wells put an end to his bout against Diamond after a dominant few minutes of performance. He got the fight to the ground early on, taking Diamond down from a clinch position in the opening minute.
After landing strikes and attempting submissions, Wells eventually got a choke in that put Diamond unconscious.
Diamond, a training partner of Israel Adesanya, was entering the UFC after putting together three wins as a pro.
Wells won his UFC debut last year, stopping Warlley Alves in the second round of a fight with strikes.
Bout 1: William Knight (11-2) vs. Maxim Grishin (31-9-2) (Heavyweight)
Grishin Wins In Short-Notice Move To Heavyweight
Maxim Grishin used his striking to earn a decision win on the prelims, defeating William Knight on scorecards after three rounds (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).
Grishin consistently had the better strikes throughout. Knight often tried to get the fight to the ground, although Grishin also succeeded there by landing with ground and pound.
This fight was originally scheduled to take place at light heavyweight. However, the bout was moved up to heavyweight on Friday after Knight missed the light heavyweight mark by a historic 12 pounds.
The result broke a two-fight winning streak for Knight.
Grishin is now back in the win column. His previous fight was a decision defeat against Dustin Jacoby last year.