Robert Whittaker has outclassed American Jared Cannonier to state his case for a rematch with UFC middleweight king Israel Adesanya.
In his second bout on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi in three months, the Australian outworked Cannonier before dropping him in the third and final round to get a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
"I'm very happy," former world champion Whittaker said from the Octagon.
"Obviously we got the result we wanted. It was a good fight, he's a tough guy."
In a technical striking showcase, the 29-year-old looked a level above Cannonier, who had not fought in more than a year after undergoing pectoral surgery.
His left jab continually peppered the American's eye, although Cannonier landed some heavy leg kicks that left serious marks behind Whittaker's knee.
After two fairly even rounds, Whittaker set up a combination that he capped off with a staggering head kick and Cannonier went down.
Whittaker stayed on top for more than two minutes before the American scrambled to his feet.
He threw everything at Whittaker to try to land a winning blow but the Australian was able to ride out the fight.
Whittaker has now won five of his last six fights and is seeking another shot at Kiwi Adesanya, who took his world title a year ago in Melbourne.