ISRAEL ADESANYA is still the UFC’s middleweight champion following a dominant victory over Robert Whittaker.
Adesanya renewed his rivalry with his fellow fan favourite early on Sunday morning in the main event of UFC 271 in Houston, Texas.
Nigerian-born Kiwi Adesanya brutally dethroned the Aussie in a blockbuster Trans Transman clash two-and-a-half years ago.
But he failed to slay The Reaper in even more emphatic fashion second time around, instead having to settle for a unanimous decision victory courtesy of 47, 48-47, 49-46 scorecards.
After having his hand raised, a delighted Adesanya said: “I knew he was going to bring everything, I knew he was going to bring everything because last time I took everything away from him.
“So he had nothing to lose. And like I said, I’m the champ! You want it, come get it.”
A crestfallen Whittaker, meanwhile, said: “I’m gutted. I thought I did enough. I thought I took that.”
Adesanya has now set his sights on a summer clash with Jared Cannonier, who brutally knocked out Derek Brunson earlier on the main card.
Adesanya said: “I know June doesn’t have a pay-per-view yet, but, like I said, I’m the new dog in the yard. I’m the big dog in the yard.
“And I know the other dog in the yard did some work tonight. So, yeah, I’m p***ing in this cage next in June. Watch me.”
Kiwi Adesanya immediately took the centre of the octagon after referee Herb Dean commenced the bout and threw a couple of naked inside low kicks before switching stances.