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UFC 271 Preview

Australian and New Zealand MMA fans will be treated to a spectacular event on Sunday morning as seven fighters from down under are showcased on a massive UFC 271 pay-per-view card!

Israel Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker II – Middleweight Title Fight

Nearly two and a half years ago, Israel Adesanya dominated Robert Whittaker to become the new UFC Middleweight champion. Most predicted we would never see a rematch after such a shattering loss for Whittaker. But step-by-step, Whittaker not only built himself back up, but he surpassed the fighter he was three years ago, adding much more to his game. This was evidenced by his wins over some of the best in the division – Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum. His improvements have made this rematch a lot more interesting, even against Adesanya, who has barely put a foot wrong in his three title defences since.

How might the fight play out?

Whittaker will learn a lot from the first fight and I would expect him to be much more patient and avoid those lunging attacks which spelled his downfall in 2019. There is no doubt that Adesanya is still the better striker, but he has more to think about this time around. In his past three fights, “The Reaper” has significantly evolved his game, in particular with the addition of takedowns. His timing is impeccable as he doesn’t over-use them, making him unpredictable and harder to read. This time around, Adesanya is aware that Whittaker can take him to the ground if he times it well. Because of this I’m expecting a low volume, tactical affair, where Adesanya looks to snap in leg kicks as quickly as possible to avoid being caught and taken down, and hope Whittaker gets frustrated and over-commits to a strike or shot. On the other hand, I predict Whittaker will be very cautious, stay out of Adesnya’s range and look to time takedowns and grapple. If the fight does go to the ground it will be very interesting. Whittaker could potentially hold him down for some time, be very patient and wait for Israel to make a mistake when trying to escape – which he did against Vettori and nearly found himself in a submission. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he got back to his feet as Whittaker doesn’t have the best control and Adesanya did show he is able to get back to his feet pretty quickly in the Vettori fight. Having learnt the lessons from their first fight and adding more weapons to his game since, I think the odds should be closer and the value is with the Australian.

Our best bet: Robert Whittaker win $3.15 at PlayUp

Derrick Lewis vs Tai Tuivasa – Co-Main Event

In terms of heavyweight fights, this is as exciting as it gets with two fan friendly fighters going face-to-face to see who emerges as the next contender for the title. Either way, we are going to be entertained by a Derrick Lewis post-fight interview or the infamous Tuivasa ‘shoey’. Most will look at this fight and predict it to be over in the first round, with someone succumbing to a hellacious knockout. But I don’t think it’s quite that simple…

How might the fight play out?

Lewis and Tuivasa are very similar fighters; they’re looking to keep things standing and finish the fight as soon as possible with a knockout. Tuivasa produces more output, and is a little more efficient and technical than Lewis. On the other hand, Lewis waits on his opponents more and looks to explode with powerful, and mostly, wild attacks. Tuivasa’s best weapon in this fight is his leg kicks, not only will it score him points, but it will limit Lewis’ explosiveness and ability to KO Tuivasa. If the Australian can stay out of danger and land his kicks repeatedly, Lewis will be in for a bad night. Overall, the winner of this fight will most likely be the person who is able to fight on the front foot and dominate the centre of the cage. Having your back up against the cage with Tuivasa or Lewis unleashing shots is a very dangerous position to be in. Either fighter can finish the other, but Lewis should be favourite, due to his vast experience and proven ability to perform on the biggest stage against some of the biggest names in the division. But Tuivasa’s rise has been as impressive as it gets, highlighted by his recent win over dangerous striker, Augusto Sakai. Once again, the odds look too wide in this one.

Our best bet: Tai Tuivasa win $2.46 at PlayUp


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