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5 hard-hitting predictions for Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker

UFC 271: Israel Adesanya shakes hands with Robert Whittaker
UFC 271: Israel Adesanya shakes hands with Robert Whittaker
Rafael Bandayrel

UFC 271 is right around the corner and all eyes will be on Houston, Texas, where Israel Adesanya will defend his crown against Robert Whittaker. The pay-per-view event will take place on Saturday at the Toyota Center.

The pair of Oceanian MMA superstars crossed paths in the octagon a few years back. In 2019, Adesanya unified the undisputed and interim middleweight titles by putting Whittaker away in the second round.

2019 ➑️ 2022The rematch 2.5 years in the making is π€π‹πŒπŽπ’π“ 𝐇𝐄𝐑𝐄![ #UFC271 | Saturday | Live on ESPN+ PPV: ufc.ac/3G7gjmN ] https://t.co/YOlNPBrh0v

However, 'The Reaper' has since clawed his way back into the title picture by eliminating fellow top contenders Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum.

Whittaker will also be in tremendous physical shape, unlike in their initial go-round. The first time he fought Adesanya at UFC 243, Whittaker came off a long layoff after he underwent surgery to treat his abdominal hernia.

With that in mind, UFC 271 will witness one of the most anticipated rematches in recent memory. Below are some of the hardest-hitting predictions for the middleweight showdown between Adesanya and Whittaker.


#5. Derek Brunson - UFC middleweight contender

Derek Brunson predicts Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2
Derek Brunson predicts Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2

Derek Brunson will be fighting on the undercard of Adesanya vs. Whittaker. A winner in his last five fights, Brunson is expected to be next in line for a title shot very soon.

The 38-year-old believes Whittaker has a conceivable path to victory. But at the end of the day, he's convinced Adesanya will have his hand raised when it's all said and done. During an interview with MMA Junkie, Brunson said:

"I can see Whittaker winning. But if I had to pick, I'd say Izzy retains and wins and keeps his title.I just want to beat both of those guys. Izzy is more the guy with all the hype and everybody sees him as unbeatable. So, I'd like to go out there and finish a guy like Izzy."

Of course, an Adesanya win is in Brunson's best interest. Whittaker reclaiming the 185-pound crown would most certainly trigger a trilogy bout between the two. But if 'The Last Stylebender' retains the belt and Brunson's hot streak continues, the North Carolina native could be next in line for a championship opportunity.


Official UFC 271 pick: Israel Adesanya

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#4. Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson - UFC welterweight

Stephen Thompson predicts Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2
Stephen Thompson predicts Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2

Alongside Israel Adesanya, Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson is one of the most prolific strikers on the UFC roster. Having fought Robert Whittaker before, Thompson has a hunch regarding how the title fight rematch will play out.

The welterweight star is of the opinion that Whittaker will run into significant problems whenever he faces a counter striker. That, coupled with Adesanya's momentum, leads Thompson to believe that Saturday's bout will be a repeat of the first fight. In an episode of MMA Pros Picks, Thompson stated:

"Man, Adesanya seems untouchable at this point, man. He seems untouchable. He's like cleared the division out, but the person that I think would give him the most problems is Whittaker. I think Whittaker learned from his last one. I think his striking is on par with Adesanya, especially his karate movements, head kicks, and takedown defense. It's going to be a stand-up war. But, uh, the counter striking of Adesanya is where Whittaker's going to have his problems. I think that's how I ended up defeating him as well, was just the counter-punching he had problems with. So I'm going to, I'm leaning towards Adesanya."

Official UFC 271 pick: Israel Adesanya

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#3. Dan Hardy - Former UFC welterweight title challenger

Dan Hardy predicts Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2
Dan Hardy predicts Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2

Despite what the betting odds might suggest, combat sports extraordinaire Dan Hardy sees a path to victory for Robert Whittaker. One of the most revered minds in MMA, Hardy believes the Australian challenger will try to catch Israel Adesanya with a submission.

Appearing on the Full Reptile podcast, he said:

"In this one I think Robert Whittaker is going to do it, I think he might catch him in a submission and line up the trilogy, then Adesanya will take it back."

In a separate interview with Submission Radio, Hardy explained how he sees Whittaker submitting Adesanya:

"When he scrambles he gives his back and if Vettori can take his back even for a moment, I've got to think Whittaker is going to be able to as well. I think he's fancying a submission. I don't want to give away any of his game plan, I'm just guessing here, but you know I would think arm triangles and rear-naked chokes all day for Whittaker in the fourth and fifth round."

Official UFC 271 pick: Robert Whittaker

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#2. Chael Sonnen - Former UFC middleweight

Chael Sonnen predicts Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2
Chael Sonnen predicts Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2

According to Chael Sonnen, Robert Whittaker has improved more than Israel Adesanya since their first meeting. However, Sonnen is convinced that Whittaker's biggest obstacle is whether he'll have the confidence to beat Adesanya.

Ultimately, 'The American Gangster' still believes Adesanya will defend his title. Sonnen, on his YouTube show, said:

"Whether Rob knows this or not, physically speaking, he has made the bigger gains. Robert Whittaker for sure, I can bring them the tape and show it to you, has made the bigger gains from the first time he fought with Adesanya till now vs. Adesanya in that fight until now. But there’s a big gap. When I talk about him making gains, there's still a gap. So I lean towards Adesanya... If Whittaker doesn’t believe what I said, then it's not true. If Robert Whittaker doesn't look at the man in the mirror and know, 'You're better tonight' and he doesn’t have a plan B... then he’s in trouble."

Official UFC 271 pick: Israel Adesanya

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#1. Michael Bisping - Former UFC middleweight champ

Michael Bisping predicts Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2
Michael Bisping predicts Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2

As a former middleweight champion, Michael Bisping is aware of how high the stakes are for Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker. The Englishman expects a more competitive fight than the 2019 version of the matchup.

According to Bisping, 'The Reaper' is poised to mount a monumental upset as he's in the best shape of his career. 'The Count' also stated that being the underdog is beneficial for Whittaker. Bisping believes that without all the pressure, the 31-year-old will be able to perform to the best of his ability:

"He's not been in the same country, he's in the form of his career, his wrestling numbers have picked up and gone through the roof, he's not the champion, he's the underdog, for all these reasons I think we'll see a very different Robert Whittaker. As a man, going out there and getting beaten the way he did last time is a tough pill to swallow, it is a rotting pain that stays with you for a long, long time. I'm not saying he's going to win. But he is going to do way better," said Bisping.

Official UFC 271 pick: Robert Whittaker

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Edited by David Andrew

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