UFC 243 will be held at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne on October 6 (AEST) and it is headlined by a UFC Middleweight Championship fight between current Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and Iterim Champion Israel Adesanya.
This is set to be the biggest combat sports fight in Australian history and possibly the biggest crowd in UFC history. The current record was set at this same stadium at UFC 193 when Holly Holm beat Ronda Rousey in front of 56,214 people in November 2015.
Whittaker was set to defend his Middleweight belt in February in front of his home fans however he was forced to pull out at very late notice due to a hernia which needed emergency surgery.
Israel Adesanya has been tearing through the division during Whittaker’s absence including a victory over Anderson Silva on the very card that the champ pulled out of. His latest victory over Kelvin Gastelum to win the Interim Title was his best and it gives him the opportunity to unify the belt in Melbourne.
Kiwi Dan Hooker takes on Al Iaquinta as the co-main event in the Lightweight division, Tai Tuivasa will face Sergey Spivak and Holly Holm returns to the place in which she won her UFC belt four years ago against Raquel Pennington.
We have analysed every fight on the Main Card and our complete UFC 243 preview can be found below.
UFC 243 Main Card
Sunday October 6 12PM AEST
UFC Middleweight Championship
Rob Whittaker finally gets his chance to defend his belt in front of his home crowd after injuries and illness have kept him from the Octagon in recent times.
He’s a great fighter. A passionate Australian and a humble champion.
Whittaker is undefeated in the UFC at Middleweight in eight fights including four by knock out.
He was devastating when he beat one of the scariest men in the sport, Yoel Romero, twice. Once with only one hand.
Israel Adesanya is undefeated in his MMA professional career which has included six wins inside the UFC.
He has fought twice already this year. Once in Melbourne, when he turned down a last minute chance to fight Kelvin Gastelum after Whittaker withdrew from the card, against Anderson Silva in which he won by decision.
He then took on Gastelum in Atlanta for the Interim Middlewight title in what was one of the best fights of the year. Adesanya was devastating late in the fight and had it not been for the bell, he would have finished him.
Despite their appearances and personalities Rob Whittaker (28) is actually almost two years younger than Adesanya (30) but with double the amount of fights in the UFC.
This is clearly an advantage from an experience perspective for the champ in this promotion however Whittaker has not fought for almost 16 months now.
Stylebender is going to bring flashiness, skill and pace.
Whittaker will bring toughness, grit and determination.
The stage is set for for one of the best fights we have ever witnessed in front of the biggest crowd to ever watch a UFC event.
The champ is in for another war inside the Octagon. Just how he likes it.
Back Robert Whittaker To Win @ $1.80
Dan Hooker represents New Zealand when he takes on Al Iaquinta as the co main event at UFC 243.
Hooker called out Al Iaquinta to make the long trip down under for this massive card and to a few people’s surprise, he accepted.
Hooker is coming off five wins (all stoppages) from his last six fights inside the UFC including a first round knock out of James Vick in July.
Iaquinta is a beast and he does not take a backward step. He took on arguably the greatest UFC fighter of all time in Khabib Nurmagomedov off only a couple of days notice.
He proved to be Khabib’s toughest fight to date in the UFC. He forced a judge’s decision, although not a tough one, after lasting all five rounds.
Iaquinta has lost two of his last three fights in the UFC and this is an extremely tough fight to take not only because of the crowd factor but because Hooker is a dangerous prospect.
We are in for a cracker of a fight with plenty of fireworks however I have the Long Island native winning.
Back Al Iaquinta To Win
Tai Tuivasa will take on Sergey Spivak in the Heavyweight Division at UFC 243
Tuivasa is coming off two losses in the UFC and another loss may see his contract in the promotion terminated.
It was a devastating loss for the Australian in Adelaide against Junior Dos Santos and he will be determined to prove to the Australian public his capabilities in this contest.
Sergey Spivak was undefeated in his pro career before he entered the UFC against Walt Harris in May.
He was completely outclassed in his UFC debut and lost in the first round via a TKO.
Tai Tuivasa is much better than his current rank suggests I think he can bounce back from his latest two losses and will be drinking from a shoe in no time.
Back Tai Tuivasa To Win By KO
New Zealander Luke Jumeau will take on Dhiego Lima in this Welterweight fight.
Jumeau has a professional MMA record of 17 fights for 13 wins and 4 losses including two from three in the UFC.
He has not been seen inside the Octagon since his unanimous decision win over Daichi Abe in Perth on 11 February 2018.
Dhiego Lima has a professional record of 21 fights for 14 wins and 7 losses including two from four inside the UFC.
Lima’s latest fight was a split decision victory against Court McGee in April this year.
It has been some time since Jumeau fought and this could be a big disadvantage for the kiwi despite the fact that he will have the crowd on his side.
Back Dhiego Lima To Win By Decision
Yorgan De Castro
Justin Tafa makes his UFC debut and he has been put onto the Main Card after Holly Holm pulled out with injury in her fight against Raquel Pennington.
He takes on Yorgan De Castro who is undefeated in his five pro MMA fights.
De Castro won his fight in Dana White’s Contender Series to gain a contract in the UFC and both men will be keen to kick start their career inside the world’s number one promotion with a win.
What better stage than this!
Back The Fight To Not Go The Distance
Yorgan De Castro
Ji Yeon Kim
Women Flyweight Division