UFC 243 takes place tomorrow night in Melbourne, Australia and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Robert Whittaker vs Israel Adesanya
This is shaping up to be a terrific battle of elite strikers for the undisputed middleweight title.
Whittaker is a very good boxer with potent combinations who is fueled by both speed and knockout power, in addition to being very durable and having the heart of a lion.
The lankier Adesanya is a kickboxing technician with a fluid and creative style that’s intelligent, unpredictable and yet doesn’t come at the expense of his defensive responsibilities.
Whittaker has had repeated injury woes and is coming off two gruelling wars against Yoel Romero, so that’s a cause for concern, but I think his speed and forward pressure will make it difficult for Adesanya to control the range with his kicks and at close range it’ll be the Aussie who is the more potent offensive force, resulting in a third round TKO stoppage.
Robert Whittaker wins by TKO in Rd3.
Al Iaquinta vs Dan Hooker
It’s rare to see either of these two in a dull fight, so this should be a good, competitive lightweight battle.
Iaquinta is a good boxer, works well on the inside and can land effectively with counters, as well as being hard-headed.
However, Hooker will enjoy a 5″ reach advantage, can operate from range when required and can also back that up with hard punches and good knees at closer range.
Hooker also has a good ground game and a submission threat that potentially could be a route to a finish, but I think Iaquinta will survive in that regard and it’ll come down to who can edge out the striking battle.
Given their toughness I can see this one going the full 15 minutes and in the end I think Hooker’s heavier hands and striking from range will allow him to edge this one on the scorecards.
Dan Hooker wins by decision.
Tai Tuivasa vs Serghei Spivak
Tuivasa is a brawler at heart and has the hard-headed, heavy hitting attributes required for that strategy, but he’s also surprisingly agile for his size.
Tuivasa’s ground game is limited though and that gives Spivak a window of opportunity here as he has the stronger grappling skills here, but I think in front of his home support Tuivasa will be looking to put on a show and will land big punches to end this one in the opening round.
Tai Tuivasa to win by KO in Rd1.
Luke Jumeau vs Dhiego Lima
Lima is certainly the more skilled fighter overall in this match-up, but there’s always a red flag when he fights because his chin has let him down on several occasions in recent years.
Jumeau is a karate based striker who has good power in his kicks and punches, so he’ll be hoping he can make his mark on the feet here.
Still, Lima has the height and reach advantage and can strike from range, though his best bet will be to use his wrestling advantage to grind his way to a decision victory.
Dhiego Lima wins by decision.
Justin Tafa vs Yorgan De Castro
Two heavyweights still relatively young in their respective careers collide here, with Tafa in particular only having three fights on his pro-record to date.
Both are essentially brawlers at this stage, though in fairness to De Castro he made effective use of leg kicks to help win his last fight.
Nonetheless, Tafa seems like he has the greater potential of the two at this stage and though it may be a bit early in his career I’m going to take him to land the heavier artillery here in the early exchanges to emerge with a first round TKO victory.
Justin Tafa wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Jake Matthews vs Rostem Akman
Megan Anderson vs Zarah Faim dos Santos
Callan Potter vs Maki Pitolo
Nadia Kassem vs Ji Yeon Kim
Jamie Mullarkey vs Brad Riddell
Khalid Taha vs Bruno Silva