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UFC 271 fight card primer: Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker II

Get up to date on the main event of UFC 271 between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker. 

The main event of UFC 271 will feature a middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya (21-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) and Robert Whittaker (23-5 MMA, 14-3 UFC). UFC 271: Adesanya vs. Whittaker II airs live from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas this Saturday, February 12th. The main PPV card on ESPN+ will start with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT, with the ESPN/ESPN+ prelims beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT and the early prelims kicking off at 6:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. PT on UFC Fight Pass.

How do these two stack up?

Adesanya: 32 years old | 6’4” | 80” reach

Whittaker: 31 years old | 5’11” | 73” reach

What have these two done recently?

Adesanya: W - Marvin Vettori (DEC) | L - Jan Blachowicz (DEC) | W - Paulo Costa (TKO)

Whittaker: W - Kelvin Gastelum (DEC) | W - Jared Cannonier (DEC) | W - Darren Till (DEC)

How did these two get here?

Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker met for the first time at UFC 243 over two years ago. Adesanya was the interim middleweight champion, winning a unanimous decision against Kelvin Gastelum in a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate at UFC 236. Whittaker was the reigning middleweight champion, returning after consecutive fights with a former divisional boogeyman in Yoel Romero at UFC 213 and UFC 225, respectively.

On that aforementioned night, ‘The Last Stylebender’ finished ‘The Reaper’ via second-round technical knockout. And though it has become commonplace for an immediate championship rematch to be scheduled, that did not happen here. Instead, Adesanya and Whittaker would fight other contenders in the division until it became abundantly clear that a second meeting could no longer be avoided.

Adesanya successfully defended his title with wins over Romero and Paulo Costa before welcoming a new challenge. The City Kickboxing product moved up to light heavyweight in an attempt to become a dual champion, a feat that only four other fighters have under their belts. Unfortunately, Adesanya fell short in his quest, losing unanimously to then-champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259. He dropped back down for his next appearance and defense, a rematch against Marvin Vettori, who he bested again by way of decision.

Whittaker spent some extra time away from competition to refresh from the burnout he was experiencing at that time. When he returned, the former champion rattled off three wins over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Gastelum. Now in a much better headspace, Whittaker has a shot at redemption at UFC 271 on Saturday night.

Why should you care?

The rematch between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker is intriguing for so many reasons. Is Adesanya the better fighter? Will the adjustments Whittaker made lead to a different result? We’ll have our answers to these questions soon enough, so tune in.