UFC 243: Whitaker vs. Adesanya

Preview and Predictions for UFC 243: Whitaker vs. Adesanya by Danny Rourke and Darell Garner 
The UFC returns to the Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia 🇦🇺 this weekend for UFC 243: Whitaker vs. Adesanya. Action begins with:
Early Prelims      UFC Fight Pass          6:45PM/ETPrelims               ESPN 2                      8:00PM/ETMain Card          PPV                          10:00PM/ET
UFC 243 Main Card Predictions
Justin Tafa (-125) vs. Yorgan DeCastro (-105)
Heavyweights Justin “Bad Man” Tafa (3-0-0) and Yorgan DeCastro (5-0-0) collide as both fighters seek to make a strong first impression in their promotional debuts. Yorgan DeCastro pulled off the biggest upset on Season Three of Dana White’s Contender Series to stay unbeaten, defeating the heavily favored Alton Meeks via First Round TKO. DeCastro faces Justin Tafa, who makes his first Octagon appearance riding a three fight stoppage  streak and with the support of his fellow home countrymen. Yorgan DeCastro has an 80% finish rate in five professional, and displayed a multidimensional attack in his demolition of Alton Meeks. Somebody’s “0” has to go in this contest of Heavyweight newcomers, and I’m leaning towards DeCastro to get the job done. 
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: DeCastro via First Round TKO 
D’Bo’s Pick: Tafa via Decision 
Dhiego Lima (-155) vs.  Luke Jumeau (+125)
Dhiego Lima (14-7-0) will be looking to extend a two fight winning streak as he readies to throw down with local Aussie Luke “The Jedi” Jumeau (13-4-0). Dhiego, the younger brother of former Bellator Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima, has started to mature find his groove in his second stint in the UFC, demonstrated in his back to back wins over Chad Laprise and Court McGee. Dhiego competed twice on the Ultimate Fighter, advancing to the Finals in both Seasons 19 and 25. Luke Jumeau makes his first Octagon appearance since earning a Unanimous Decision nod over Daichi Abe at UFC 221 in February 2018. The Jedi is 2-1 in the UFC and has won eight out of his last nine fights. 
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Jumeau via Decision 
D’Bo’s Pick: Lima via Decision 
#14 Tai Tuivasa (-370) vs. Sergey Spivak (+310)
“Bam Bam” Tai Tuivasa (8-2-0) meets “The Polar Bear” Sergey Spivak (9-1-0) in a Heavyweight contest. After winning his first three bouts inside the Octagon against lesser competition, Tao Tuivasa has stumbled recently in consecutive losses to former Champions Junior Dos Santos (UFC) and Blagoy Ivanov. Tuivasa is surprisingly spry for his size and shape, and has a personality that tips the scales to boot. A fight at home base against Spivak could be just what the doctored ordered for Tuivasa. “The Polar Bear” is coming off of a disappointing performance in his promotional debut in May at UFC Ottawa, where Spivak lost to Walt Harris via TKO in less than a minute into the opening round. While Sergey’s  loss to Harris was the first of his pro career, Spivak should be motivated to get his tenth pro stoppage win and avoid failing to 0-2 inside the Octagon. 
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Tuivasa via First Round TKO
D’Bo’s Pick: Spivac via First Round TKO 
#15 Dan Hooker (-160) vs. #6 Al Iaquinta(+140)
In the Co-Main event, Dan “The Hangman” Hooker (18-8-0) takes on Ragin’ Al Iaquinta (14-5-1) in a matchup of talented Lightweight contenders. After having a four fight win streak come to an end against Edson Barboza at UFC Milwaukee, Dan Hooker responded with a masterful performance in July against James Vick at UFC San Antonio, finishing the Texecutioner via First Round KO. In his post-fight interview, Hooker called out any Lightweights to challenge him in Australia at UFC 243, so Hooker could compete on the same card as he teammate Israel Adesanya who faces Robert Whitaker in the Main Event. It didn’t take long for Long Island’s Al Iaquinta to accept Hooker’s UFC 243 invitation, and your Co-Main event is set. Since challenging Khabib Nurmagomedov on a days notice at UFC 223 last April, Iaqunita has gone 1-1, defeating Kevin Lee for a second time at UFC Milwaukee and dropping a Unanimous Decision to Donald Cerrone at UFC Ottawa in May. This is an important bout for both fighters in terms of staying relevant in a highly competitive division. These two are both tough as nails and I expect fireworks in this contest from start to finish. 
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Iaquinta via Decision 
D’Bo’s Pick: Hooker via Third Round TKO 
MAIN EVENT—UFC Middleweight Championship Unification Bout 
{C} Robert Whitaker (-110) vs. {IC} Israel Adesanya (-110)
“The Reaper” Robert Whitaker (20-4-0) is back to defend his Middleweight title against Interim Champion “The Last Stylebender” Israel Adesanya (17-0-0). Whitaker a native of Australia will have home field advantage against the neighboring New Zealander Israel Adesanya in what should be an epic clash to unify the Middleweight title. Adesanya is coming off of a a brilliant performance in his instant classic five round war with Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236 in April. Adesanya earned his title via Unanimous Decision in what has to be the best Interim title fight in UFC history. I think it was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen, that’s saying something. Israel Adesanya has started off his career with a 6-0 record inside the Octagon, and has his sights set high on potential future bouts with Jon Jones, and even Stipe Miocic. Adesanya will have to pack on some pounds to that 6’4 frame, but hey anything is possible. Adesanya faces a formidable champion in Robert Whitaker, who has won his last nine fights. Whitaker has dealt with some health issues that forced his withdraw in title defenses against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in February 2018 (Staph Infection) and at against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 in February of this year due to a collapsed bowel and abdominal hernia. Whitaker defeated the “Soldier of God” Yoel Romero at UFC 213 to become champion, and again in a classic non-title fight (Romero missed weight) at UFC 225, that garnered Fight of the Year nominations. Whitaker and Adesanya are the two best Middleweights in the world in my opinion so it will be a treat to see these guys compete this weekend. Adesanya displayed his warrior spirit to defeat Gastelum at UFC 236, but showed some kinks in his armor as Gastelum was able to drop Adesanya on multiple occasions with his heavy hands and crisp boxing. “Bobby Knuckles” is a great boxer, so it will interesting to see how the Last Stylebender stages his attack against Whitaker. These two great fighters will put on a show Saturday night. I’m leaning towards Adesanya continuing his ascension to super stardom, but don’t sleep on the Reaper…

Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Adesanya via Second Round TKO 
D’Bo’s Pick: Adesanya via Decision 
Next week the UFC takes over the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida for UFC on ESPN +19: Joanna vs. Waterson in what should be an exciting fight for the next shot at the women’s  Strawweight title. Share your thoughts and predictions with us in the Comments section below, and enjoy the fights! 

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