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Whittaker locks in UFC title fight for Melbourne

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24th July, 2019
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Robert Whittaker will be hoping it’s a case of third time lucky in Australia, with his UFC middleweight title defence against New Zealender Israel Adesanya finally confirmed for October 6 at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium.

At one time the fight had been rumoured to go to Sydney, where Whittaker lives, but it is occurring on NRL grand final day in that city.

The Victorian government is supporting UFC 243, which will be held at the venue which in November 2015 hosted the largest MMA event in UFC history, with 56,214 attending UFC 193 headlined by Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm.

The past two times Whittaker has been scheduled to fight in Australia, at Perth Arena in February 2018 and Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena in February 2019, he had to withdraw through injury or illness.

New Zealand-born Whittaker’s past three fights were in America and he last fought in Australia in November 2016 – in Melbourne.

With Whittaker not fighting since June last year, Nigerian-born Adesanya won an interim title fight against American Kelvin Gastelum in April.

Whittaker himself won an interim title against Cuban Yoel Romero in July 2017.

He was later upgraded to full champion after the incumbent Georges St-Pierre vacated the title.

Whittaker fought and again defeated Romero on points in Chicago in June 2018, though it was not technically a title defence after the Cuban came in overweight.

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“I have unfinished business here…see you in October, Melbourne Australia,” Whittaker tweeted.

Whittaker, who has a 20-4 MMA record, is on a nine-fight UFC win streak and last lost in February 2014.

Adesanya has a 17-0 MMA record, his last six wins coming in the UFC.

“This is the perfect fight at the perfect time with the two best athletes in the division,” UFC president Dana White said.

“I am pumped to go back to Melbourne for this massive event.

“To have two champions in Whittaker and Adesanya fighting for the title on home turf is huge.

“This will be the biggest fight in Australian history.”

© AAP