Israel Adesanya lands deadly left hook to knock out Robert Whittaker, claim UFC title

Charismatic fighter Israel Adesanya dethroned UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker with a stunning knockout in the second round of their highly anticipated 185-pound unification bout which headlined UFC 243 at Melbourne's Docklands Stadium this afternoon.

Israel Adesanya poses with his family and trainers after becoming the undisputed UFC middleweight champion. Source: Getty

New Zealand-based, Nigerian-born Adesanya landed a booming right hook which floored Whittaker in the final seconds of the first round. The interim middleweight champion then ended the fight in the second of the five-round contest with a left hook.

Adesanya was interim champion before claiming the title against Whittaker and improving his UFC record to 7-0.

Israel Adesanya celebrates after his knockout victory over Robert Whittaker in their UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 243 event. Source: Getty

"He threw everything we expected," Adesanya said. "We had everything planned for plan A to Z. He caught me with a nice one, but I returned. I eat it, but give it back two times."

"I can take it and give it back. I'm tough and smart."

The attendance of 57,127 set a new world record for UFC, surpassing the 56,214 at the same venue in 2015.

"I was in the nose bleeds, and now I've made his nose bleed," Adesanya said immediately after the fight in reference to that 2015 event where he was a spectator in the upper reaches in the stadium while Whittaker was a rising UFC star on the card at that event. The New Zealand-born Australian won his fight that night.

It was 28-year-old Whittaker's first fight since June 2018 in Chicago. He was scheduled to fight in February but withdrew due to emergency bowel surgery.

Whittaker's UFC world-title defense was the first by an Australian.