Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker have both made weight and the countdown to their highly-anticipated rematch for the middleweight title at UFC 271 has officially begun.
As has been the theme for the majority of the lead-up to this epic trans-Tasman grudge match, apart from the odd cheeky jibe from Adesanya, both men kept it civil at the ceremonial weigh-in, and shook each other’s hand following their stare-down.
The defending champion Adesanya (21-1) kept it very simple ahead of his fourth defence of the undisputed championship at Houston’s Toyota Center on Sunday (AEDT).
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“No more words, no more words. He won’t win because I will not lose,” Adesanya said.
And former champion Whittaker (24-5) reserved his final message for his fans who he felt dragged him out of the doldrums following his loss to Adesanya at UFC 243 over two years ago, and inspired him to resurrect his career with wins over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum to earn himself his shot at redemption as the No.1 contender.
“Thank you very much to all my fans and supporters, without you guys I wouldn’t be here,” Whittaker said.
“You guys kept me in it when I was at my lowest and believed in me and I’m going to give you a good fight tomorrow.”
Australian cult hero Tai Tuivasa and all-time UFC knockout record holder Derrick Lewis also made weight ahead of their co-main blockbuster heavyweight bout.
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There were a few heated moments at the weigh-ins, though.
Bobby Green and Nasrat Haqparast had to be held back from each other by UFC boss Dana White and security ahead of their lightweight showdown, which will kick off the main card, and Renato Moicano refused to shake Alexander Hernandez’s hand ahead of their lightweight match-up which will also feature on the main card.
Of the 30 fighters originally scheduled to fight at UFC 271, 28 made weight, including Australians Jacob Malkoun and Casey O’Neill who are fighting AJ Dobson and the retiring Roxanne Modafferi in the middleweight and women’s flyweight divisions respectively.
William Knight weighed in at 218 pounds, 12 pounds over the light heavyweight limit, meaning his fight with Maxim Grishin will now take place at heavyweight and Knight will forfeit 40 per cent of his purse.
And the flyweight bout between Alex Perez and Matt Schnell was scrapped after Perez came in at 128 pounds at the weigh-in, which was two pounds over the limit.
Perez didn’t attempt to try to weigh in again, leading Schnell to refuse to agree to a catchweight bout and their fight being scrapped.