UFC 271: Top trainers break down, predict Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2

HOUSTON, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 10: (L-R) Opponents Israel Adesanya of Nigeria and Robert Whittaker of Australia face off during the UFC 271 press conference at George R. Brown Convention Center on February 10, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
By Greg Rosenstein Feb 11, 2022 21
UFC 271 features one of the most intriguing rematches that can be made in mixed martial arts: middleweight champion Israel Adesanya vs. former titleholder Robert Whittaker. The two fought at UFC 243 in October 2019, a bout where the Nigerian knocked out his opponent in the second round.

Since that loss, Whittaker has been on a tear to earn another crack at the belt: three unanimous decision wins over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum, respectively. Will he find redemption Saturday night or will Adesanya tighten his grasp on the division?

This matchup on paper appears very close, so we brought in a few of the top trainers in MMA to break it down from every angle and make a prediction. Here’s what Sayif Saud of Fortis MMA in Dallas, Eric Nicksick of Xtreme Couture MMA and Jason Parillo of RVCA think will happen.

Initial thoughts on the matchup?

Jason Parillo: It’s hard for me to see Izzy losing this fight. When you look at that fight he had with Jan (Blachowicz), that’s his only loss and even Jan couldn’t put him out of there. I’d like to think that Izzy is a tough guy to get out of there, and I think that’s Robert’s best chance of winning this fight — I don’t see him outscoring him or outpointing him in the fight. So it’s a tough fight to call. I just think the champ is a little better.

Sayif Saud: This is a real interesting fight, obviously, because they fought once before. But not only that, not only did they fight once before, but the outcomes that Whittaker had in that fight was obviously not the one he wanted. Izzy caught him. He caught him once at the end of the first and then he caught him again at the end of the second. He found one spot and exposed it. You know Whittaker’s team moving forward is going to make sure that they stay behind that jab.