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UFC: All you need to know ahead of UFC 271

The highly-exciting Israel Adesanya is back in action in the early hours of Sunday morning when he puts his middleweight title on the line against Robert Whittaker at UFC 271.

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What is the significance of the main event?

Simply put, it's a rematch between Adesanya and Whittaker after the former beat the latter to win the middleweight belt at UFC 243 in 2018.

Adesanya has been a dominant force at middleweight since making his UFC debut in 2018 and, having won the title the following year, he's starting to lap the division.

The Last Stylebender has already proven his worth as one of the best to ever compete at 185lbs and now it's a case of trying to cement his legacy in the UFC.

Whittaker is a veteran in comparison to Adesanya, making his UFC debut in 2012, and he's out to prove that he can still compete at the top of the division.

This is his shot at redemption after losing the first contest via a knockout and subsequently handing the title to Adesanya in front of his home crowd in Australia.

Bobby Knuckles has won three successive fights since that disappointing night in Melbourne, beating Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum all by decision.

What are their records?

Israel Adesanya - 22 fights, 21 wins (15 KOs), 1 defeat.

Robert Whittaker - 28 fights, 23 wins (9 KOs), 5 defeats.

Where is the fight taking place?

Sunday's event takes place at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

What time is the fight?

The Prelims are scheduled to get underway at 01:00 GMT on Sunday, 13th February and the main card will begin at 03:00 GMT.

There are five fights on the main card with the headliner between Adesanya and Whittaker likely to start around 05:00 GMT.

Who is fighting on the undercard?

Derrick Lewis vs Tai Tuivasa

Jared Cannonier vs Derek Brunson

Kyler Phillips vs Marcelo Rojo

Bobby Green vs Nasrat Haqparast

What are the odds?

Adesanya is a heavy 4/11 favourite to have his arm raised at the end of Sunday's fight, while challenger Whittaker can be backed at 11/5.

Whittaker to earn revenge

Adesanya has only tasted defeat once in his professional MMA career and that loss came when he stepped up a division to take on light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.

The Lagos-born fighter struggled with the phyciality of his Polish opponent and his lack of wrestling skills were exposed as he spent the majority of the five rounds on his back.

It proved to be a hugely frustrating night for Adesanya but he recovered when getting back to winning ways at middlweight against Marvin Vettori last time out.

Adesnaya, who comes from a kickboxing background, has never even attempted a takedown and he's unlikely to alter that approach against Whittaker.

However, he will need to rely on his takedown defence, which currently stands at 80%, to avoid a repeat of the Blachowicz contest.

Whittaker missed a trick in the first contest as he opted to stand and trade rather than utilise his superior wrestling.

He did have a spot on the Australian Commonwealth freestyle wrestling team for the 2018 Games, however, he decided to step aside to focus on his MMA career.

After watching Blachowicz dominate Adesanya at UFC 259, Whittaker would be crazy not to follow the blueprint put in place.

A Whittaker win  looks the way to go here but only if he plays to his strengths and learns from his mistakes during the first meeting.

Main event to go the distance

Adesanya showed grit to avoid any submission attempts against Blachowicz and he should be able to do the same against Whittaker.

It might not prove to be the most attractive fight but that won't matter to the challenger if he can keep the champion off his feet.

Therefore, backing Whittaker to win by decision or technical decision offers interest.

Each of Whittaker's last three fights have gone the distance and all ended in victory, while he has nine wins by decision overall.

Fight to go the distance is also an option worth exploring.

The first meeting between the pair might have been over in the second round but that should serve as a lesson for Whittaker.

Adesanya certainly has the tools to end fights early with his fast hands and awkward kicks claiming 15 victims in 22 fights.

However, seven of his trips to the cage have gone all the way and that has been the case in his last two fights.

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