The most anticipated fight in the history of Oceanic mixed martial arts will take place in front of 60,000 people in the sporting capital of Australia. Robert Whittaker will attempt to validate his status as the best middleweight in the world, while Israel Adesanya will look to usurp his throne and break through as the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s next legitimate superstar. In the same arena where Holly Holm soul-snatched Ronda Rousey and forever reshaped women’s MMA, the region’s two giants — leaders of their respective tribes in Auckland and Sydney — will do battle for the heart and soul of Oceania.
The bout is many years in the making. Even as they built their records in different sports and on opposite corners of the globe, MMA insiders have thirsted over the inevitable encounter between “The Reaper” and “The Last Stylebender.” They first came face-to-face 10 months ago in an Adelaide hotel lobby, where the two men exchanged awkward pleasantries and Adesanya complimented Bobby on his pleasant fragrance. Since then, what started as a fantasy matchup for the sports hardcores has steadily gestated into Australia’s most talked about fight in a generation, and perhaps the biggest UFC title fight of 2019.
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