ESPN's MMA Employees Break Out the Biggest Understanding from UFC 243: Whittaker v. Adesanya:
Ariel Helwani Welcomes the Israel Adesanya era
Israel Adesanya made its UFC debut on February 11, 2018.
This is not a typo. He made his debut a year and a half ago against Rob Wilkinson on the UFC 221 card.
And on Saturday night he became the undisputed UFC middleweight king.
Since Conor McGregor, we have not seen anyone burst through the UFC doors this one. But if you score at home, McGregor became the undisputed champion in two and a half years.
Every battle of UFC 243 can be traced to ESPN +.
FIGHT AFTER BATTLE PLAYBACK  • Robert Whittaker vs. Israel Adesanya
• Al Iaquinta vs. Dan Hooker
• Tai Tuivasa vs. Serghei Spivac
• Luke Jumeau vs. Dhiego Lima
• Justin Tafa vs. Yorgan De Castro
• Jake Matthews vs. Rostm Akman
• Callan Potter vs. Maki Pitolo
• Brad Riddell vs. Jamie Mullarkey
• Megan Anderson vs. Zarah Fairn
• Nadia Kassem vs. Ji Yeon Kim
• Khalid Taha vs. Bruno Silva
View the complete map on ESPN +
Adesanya has it all. He walks the path and speaks the conversation. He is the dream of a promoter. He is a great quote and a striking fighter.
When he made his unique appearance before the fight, I thought, oh no, he exerts too much energy. And then I remembered, he is Israel Adesanya. The normal rules do not seem to apply to him.
And of course they did not do it. Once again, he rose to the occasion.
All he did was go there and break Robert Whittaker's neo-fighter winning streak, become the first man to beat Whittaker at 185 pounds and give Whittaker only the second knockout loss of his career. And although Whittaker definitely got him here and there, it was never doubtful.
If Adesanya had 15 or more seconds at the end of the first round, he might have finished the job in the first round.  It's really incredible. And more, because he's been calling all this for years.
And the beauty is that he is about to get bigger. Why? Because he has a cut film from Brazil called Paulo Costa that despises him and looks like something from a Marvel comic waiting for him next. The structure for this fight will be enormous. The trash talk and the suspense will be unforgettable. And that's exactly what Adesanya needs for his first title defense.
– Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) October 6, 2019
The Most Promising Part? Adesanya seems to be grounded. He is close to his parents, who seem to have great influence in his life. His team is small, but loyal and modest. Everything is prepared for him to become one of the biggest stars this sport has ever seen. He has everything and does everything.
He was my breakthrough fighter of the year last year. He was in our awards ceremony and said he was happy to win the award, but he wanted to be the Fighter of the Year in 2019.
I think he just finished it. Not to mention the fight of the year (against Kelvin Gastelum in April), the strike of the year, the coach of the year (Eugene Bareman), the gym of the year (City Kickboxing). Get used to it, friends.
The Last Stylebender era has officially begun.
Brett Okamoto explores what's next.
Israel Adesanya, Middleweight
Result: Defeat Robert Whittaker over KO in the second round
Next: Paulo Costa
Sublime performance of Israel Adesanya. Robert Whittaker is a huge middleweight, but that was Adesanya's fight. Yes, Whittaker had some successes and no, it was not a blowout. But the fight that changed the shots belonged to Adesanya. He used his entire arsenal and set traps when needed. The final sequence was a nice display of technique, athleticism and combat IQ.
There was a lot of respect between Adesanya and Whittaker. Let's move on to a matchup with a bit more heat. Adesanya and Paulo Costa do not like each other. They are both undefeated. Costa is an unstoppable force of forward attacks, while Adesanya is a cunning, clever and precise assassin. This matchup is everything you want in a championship fight. Let's go.
Robert Whittaker hints at Israel Adesanya and calls him "crafty," but says he does not go anywhere fast. For more UFC, sign up here for ESPN + http://plus.espn.com/ufc.[19659035lightboxesRobertWhittakerMediumweight
Result: Lost against Israel Adesanya on the second round KO  Next: Jack Hermansson
Whittaker's title government will perish without a single official title defense. During this time, he was the victim of one pitch after the other, and then he fell into the ultimate misfortune to meet an aspiring superstar.
It is now Adesanya's time. That's out of the question. But that does not mean that there can never be time for Whittaker again. In his post-fight interview, he mentioned seeing Adesanya in one or two fights. It makes sense to score the first win against Hermansson, who met Jared Cannonier in Copenhagen last weekend.
Jeff Wagenheim on the Big Night of Dan Hooker
Talk about how to take an opponent out of his game. In the co-main event, Dan Hooker thoroughly dominated the Southern Paw Al Iaquinta, which should not be unexpected, since Iaquinta usually fights out of an orthodox attitude. However, "Raging Al" could only do so in the first few minutes of the fight, as Hooker made a series of bad kicks early on, damaging Iaquinta's left leg and forced him to change position.
It was like Hooker playing Matchmaker. Instead of fighting against the orthodox Iaquinta, he decided to take on the southpaw Iaquinta.
It was not his first attempt to put together a match, and it was not his last of the night. The New Zealander wanted to be on that Melbourne card, led by his friend and team-mate Adesanya, and called out Iaquinta. He knew what he was doing; Al does not refuse callouts. But winning the fight was only half the battle. Hooker still had to win it, and for him, Iaquinta was a leap to the top of the ESPN lightweight rankings.
This is the orthodox version of Iaquinta. The Southpaw version did not look like a top 10 fighter on Saturday night, and Hooker used his length – he's 6 feet tall and has a 75-inch reach – to make him his battle. Iaquinta is a cage, and he has tried to reduce the distance. But when he fought the south paw that started before the end of the first round, "Raging Al" just did not have the footwork to make Hooker angry. This is not a charge against Iaquinta, but a slap on the back of Hooker, who has now won six of his last seven and has proved problematic in the 155-pound division.
Defeated a top 10 enemy. Hooker had a different – and cheap – venue in the sights right after the fight. Before leaving the cage, Hooker told the vociferous crowd a clear message for Dustin Poirier, No. 3 (19459053). "Meet me in New Zealand in 2020," he said, "and I'll finish you."
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make us to this match.