UFC 243 is set for this weekend in Melbourne, Australia and will showcase some of the best MMA talent Oceania has to offer. The Australian Robert Whittaker and New Zealand’s Israel Adesanya will battle it out in the main event for the undisputed middleweight championship.
Here, we’ll delve into the numbers of both fighters and see if they give any indication as to how the main event of UFC 243 may go. All stats have been taken from here, so if you want to look deeper into the numbers, here’s the place to go.
Robert Whittaker vs Israel Adesanya
Whittaker is 20-4 in his professional MMA career, 11-2 in the UFC and importantly, undefeated at 185lbs with an 8-0 record. Within these eight wins at middleweight, he has picked up three performance of the night bonuses and four-fight of the night honours. Whittaker has also captured both the interim and undisputed middleweight titles.
Adesanya has an undefeated professional MMA record at 17-0. Debuting at middleweight, he’s an impressive 6-0 in the UFC. This run includes 13 finishes, in which two are in the UFC. ‘The Last Stylebender’ also has an impressive kickboxing resume, where he fought a number of times for Glory. He leaned on this experience when he went the full 25 minutes in his interim title bout with Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236.
Whittaker vs Romero – 1 and 2
Robert Whittaker’s previous two bouts were against the same person, the Cuban wrestling star, Yoel Romero. A puzzle which had previously been unsolved in the UFC, Whittaker defeated Romero twice by decision, capturing the interim title and then defending the undisputed belt. In the first bout, Whittaker was out-landed by Romero 114 to 94. Despite this, he landed more significant strikes, 74 to Romero’s 48. What is also important to note is that Whittaker landed more significant strikes each round, with seven landing in the first, increasing to 31 in the final round.
The second bout didn’t play out like the first. Romero again out-struck the Australian, 149-129 in total strikes. Whittaker did out-land Romero on significant strikes again, 129-111. Romero badly hurt Whittaker on multiple occasions, knocking him down twice in the bout and coming close to finishing it. This possibly explains why Whittaker’s work-rate dropped throughout the fight. He landed on Romero 33 times in the opening round. ‘The Reaper’ only managed to land 14 strikes on his opponent in the final round, proving how much his work-rate reduced.
Adesanya vs Gastelum
Adesanya’s most recent bout was in an interim title bout against Kelvin Gastelum in April of this year. In what is a ‘fight of the year’ contender, it had stand up fanatics on the edge of their seats. This is the fight that set up Adesanya’s fight with Whittaker at UFC 243.
Adesanya was able to outland Gastelum 119-92 in total strikes. He also outlanded him 109-91 significant strikes. After being hurt in the fourth round, Adesanya showed great heart in the fifth. He landed 37 significant strikes, the most of either fighter throughout the 25-minute fight. He also was able to knock Gastelum down four times during the bout. One of the important numbers of this fight is that Gastelum only landed one takedown, despite attempting nine.
Throughout his UFC career, opponents have attempted to take ‘The Last Stylebender’ down 49 times, of which only seven have been successful. This is a takedown defence of 85%, which allows Adesanya to implement his stand-up game to the best of his ability.
What do these numbers tell us?
The main take away from both these numbers? Whittaker stays active and looks to strike often throughout the fight. In the first fight with Romero, ‘The Reaper’ drastically increase his work rate, despite seriously injuring his knee early in the fight. If he is able to keep this constant work-rate and keep Adesanya thinking throughout the fight, he has a better chance of victory.
The numbers also tell us exactly what we all already knew about Adesanya. He likes to keep the fight on the feet in order to implement his game. With some of the most accomplished striking in all of MMA, Adesanya has consistently defended takedowns throughout his UFC career. Whittaker has only landed four takedowns in his 13 fight UFC career. This means that we can expect a high paced, action-packed, stand-up main event in Melbourne.
The only number that matters, however, is that there can only be one middleweight champion. That will be decided at UFC 243.
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