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Those thinking a main event slot against a top-ten guy was too much for Israel Adesanya were proved very wrong tonight.
In dominant fashion, “The Last Stylebender” bested perennial middleweight contender Brad Tavares to win via unanimous decision (50-45 x 2, 49-46).
In just his third UFC fight and the biggest test of his career to date, Adesanya wore the spotlight with ease and passed with flying colours. From the outset, he was the more effective striker, picking the Hawaiian apart in his usually confident and creative fashion. Over five rounds, Adesanya’s precision and timing had Tavares wearing considerable damage. A brutal elbow in the fourth round cut Tavares above the eye prompting referee Herb Dean to call a timeout. With a masterful performance, Adesanya proved tonight that he’s more than capable of hanging with the world’s most elite middleweights.
In his post-fight interview, Adesanya took a moment to acknowledge those who had doubted him.
“All the pundits and all the experts said, ‘Too soon, he’s only had two fights in the UFC,’” Adesanya said.
“My first main event,” he said. “I’m just getting warmed up. Give me some time.”
Adesanya remains undefeated with a 14-0 record. With a win over #8 ranked Tavares, he will likely move into the division’s top ten.
In the post-fight press conference, Adesanya explained he’d like to take a longer break before his next fight after taking three fights in quick succession. He also reiterated his previous sentiments about wanting the winner of Paulo Costa and Uriah Hall next. Costa vs. Hall will feature on tomorrow’s UFC 226 preliminary card.
“I’m gonna be cageside tomorrow. I’m gonna watch the premier middleweight bout and I wanna fight the winner of that. But I see those guys, they’re gonna beat themselves up. They’re probably gonna even need longer to recover than I will, you know. I’m fresh, it’s the pretty ones you gotta watch out for.”
That match-up now makes a lot of sense. Adesanya will be in attendance to support City Kickboxing teammate Dan Hooker in his lightweight bout with Gilbert Burns.