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TUF 27 Finale video recap: Israel Adesanya cruises past Tavares for a decision victory

At the TUF 27 Finale the Style Bender Israel Adesanya proved he’s worth the hype with an assured victory over the veteran Brad Tavares.

Israel Adesanya UFC 234 Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

In the headlining fight of The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale, New Zealand’s Israel Adesanya continued to build his hype and display that he may be the next big thing in the UFC’s middleweight division. He did this by cruising past and out-styling the veteran Brad Tavares.

Leading up to this one there were whispers that Tavares wouldn’t make it to the cage. This was thanks to mixed messages — from the UFC, Tavares, and his team — on whether the former TUF contestant was injured. The rumours were troubling enough that Thiago Santos weighed-in just in case he would be needed to step in opposite Adesanya.

But Marreta will have to wait for another day, because Tavares showed up to the fight, but didn’t do much once he got there. A lot of that can be attributed to Adesanya’s efforts, but maybe Tavares was carrying (and hiding) some kind of ailment after all.

The fight was all Adesanya. He whiffed on a lot of fancy stuff, but the solid strikes he landed were enough to sap the danger out of Tavares. In the middle rounds, Adesanya was able to hurt the Hawaiian a couple of times. He also opened up a nasty wound over Tavares’ right eye. After taking damage Tavares’ offense became little more than looping single shots and takedown attempts that were easily seen and nullified by Adesanya. In the end, the prospect was able to cruise past this tough-and-gritty-veteran test to earn a never-in-doubt unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45. 50-45).

What was the high point of the fight?

The beginning of the end for Tavares came in the third round. Adesanya looked to be just feeling him out in the first two periods, but in the third he began striking with serious intent. He hit air and forearm with a lot of punches and kicks, but he was able to land a hard body kick, a knee to the head, and a slick trip that but Tavares on his behind. Those successes looked like they really sucked the vigor out of Tavares. Style Bender finished up this round with a heavy overhand right that clubbed against Tavares’ temple; forcing him to cover up and retreat. A lesser fighter would have probably been stopped cold.

The rounds after this featured a lithe Adesanya pot-shotting Tavares with little fear over what Tavares could offer him in return.

Where do these two go from here?

Adesanya told the crowd to be patient with him and stated that he was “just getting warmed up.” Now 14-0, expect Adesanya to get a tougher test than Tavares (who is remarkably ranked number eight in the division), but perhaps not one of the true elites of the middleweight division.

Tavares’ stock will fall after this display. That being said there are still plenty of match-ups for him at 185 lbs. Given what division this is, he’ll probably still make the top fifteen and find himself in a fight with a similarly tenured fighter who won’t be challenging for belts anytime soon.

Watch it now, later, or never?

If you’re high on Style Bender, watch this later. It’s a good win for him, albeit one everyone expected. If you’re a Tavares fan, file this fight under things you’ll never want to see.

Here are some highlights: