During Super Bowl week and the NBA trade deadline, it is sometimes easy to overlook other events of the sports world this week. However, on the day before the big game, the UFC put together a terrific main card, including another title defense for middleweight champion Israel Adesanya

 

Jared Cannonier (-165) vs. Derek Brunson (+145) O/U 2.5 rounds

The main event is not the only major middleweight bout taking place Saturday night, as the third and fourth-ranked middleweights go head to head for a chance to be the next fighter to compete for the belt. 

Jared Cannonier and Derek Brunson will fight on the UFC 271 main card for a potential opportunity to face the winner of Adesanya/Whittaker.

Jared “The Killa Gorilla” Cannonier is a knockout specialist and a winner of four out of his last five fights. His only defeat comes at the hands of a unanimous decision loss to number one ranked Robert Whittaker. 

One of Cannonier’s biggest advantages comes with strength, as he has outmatched his middleweight counterparts with such in the past. One clean right hook, and Cannonier may be on his way to his tenth career win by knockout. 

In order to get his title shot, he will have to get through number four ranked Derek Brunson. 

Currently, on a five-game win streak, Brunson has shot up the rankings with his improved wrestling. Over his last two fights against Darren Till and Kevin Holland, Brunson has proven to be able to eat significant shots, something essential against someone with the striking power of Cannonier. 

Brunson’s last loss was against champion Israel Adesanya via first round knockout. However, Brunson has improved to be a much more complete fighter now, compared to almost four years ago. 

Prediction: Derek Brunson via split decision

 

Derrick Lewis (-180) vs. Tai Tuivasa (+155) O/U 1.5 rounds

Before the title fight, two popular names in the heavyweight division duel it out with aspirations to compete against Francis Ngannou. Tuivasa has become an exciting new name in the UFC world, gaining attention through his highlight knockouts and shoe beer celebrations. 

All three of his last wins ended via knockout, and he has landed significant strikes at a high clip, averaging 4.63 per minute. 

Lewis, the third-ranked fighter in the division, is on the verge of another title shot with a win Saturday night. Lewis is another powerful fighter who has finished 81 perfect of his wins by way of knockout. 

Compared to Tuivasa, Lewis is a seasoned vet, competing in over double the amount of professional fights. 

Prediction: Derrick Lewis via 2nd round KO

 

Israel Adesanya (-280) vs. Robert Whittaker (+225) O/U 4.5 rounds

In the Main Event, the “Stylebender” looks for his fourth consecutive title defense, this time in a rematch against Robert Whittaker. Adesanya took care of business in their last bout, knocking out Whittaker in the second round. 

It is virtually impossible to find any weaknesses in Adesanya’s game. His grappling and striking are at the top of the division, and he has always been masterful with his leg kicks. 

Robert Whittaker has not lost a fight since his last defeat to Adesanya and has beaten some of the most talented fighters in the division on the way back to the title fight. 

While his last three wins have come via decision, Whittaker has serious power that the champion can not underestimate. Whittaker has also proven to be able to submit his opponents in the past but has most recently been winning fights through his striking and karate background. 

Prediction: Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision