Israel Adesanya got to live a dream when he went blow-for-blow with MMA great and former UFC champ Anderson Silva.
Then he got to put a bow on it all with a unanimous decision victory, outpointing Silva (34-9 MMA, 17-5 UFC) on all three scorecards, keeping Adesanya’s perfect MMA record intact (16-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) .
The middleweight bout served as the UFC 234 pay-per-view headliner at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. It followed prelims on UFC Fight Pass and ESPN.
As is customary with most Silva bouts, this one got off to a slow start as the two inventive strikers sized one another up in the opening two minutes. But as the pace picked up in the first round, it was Adesanya who was the more aggressive and the more effective fighter, wobbling Silva with a short right at one point and opening up with an array of kicks that kept the former champ on the defensive.
More: Anderson Silva, Israel Adesanya get emotional at UFC 234 weigh-in
Dana White: Robert Whittaker’s injury ‘could have been fatal’ if he fought at UFC 234
In the second frame, however, Silva began to find his groove. Pressing in close, he trapped Adesanya against the fence, attacking in the clinch at one point and stinging him with a lead right at another.
Adesanya seemed to retake control of the fight in the third, targeting Silva’s swollen right eye and mixing up the strikes from distance. Still, neither man could seize a truly decisive advantage, with Silva remaining always just dangerous enough to give Adesanya pause even when his offense seemed on the verge of picking up momentum.
After three close rounds, the fight headed to the judges, all three of whom gave the fight to Adesanya, turning in scorecards of 29-28, 30-27, and 30-27.
With the win, Adesanya remains perfect as an MMA fighter. Silva has now lost five of his last seven.
Up-to-the-minute UFC 234 results include
- Israel Adesanya def. Anderson Silva via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Lando Vannata def. Marcos Mariano via submission (kimura) – Round 1, 4:55
- Ricky Simon def. Rani Yahya via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-25)
- Montana De La Rosa def. Nadia Kassem via submission (armbar) – Round 2, 2:37
- Jim Crute def. Sam Alvey via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:49
- Devonte Smith def. “Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:53
- Shane Young def. Austin Arnett via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Kai Kara-France def. Raulian Paiva via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Kyung Ho Kang def. Teruto Ishihara via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:59
- Jalin Turner def. Callan Potter via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 0:53
- Jonathan Martinez def. Wuliji Buren via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)