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Adesanya stays undefeated, dominates veteran Tavares

Israel Adesanya of Nigeria punches Brad Tavares in their middleweight bout during The Ultimate Fighter Finale event inside The Pearl concert theater at Palms Casino Resort on July 6, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)ADESANYA vs TAVARES

In his first UFC main event, middleweight up and comer Israel Adesanya fought like he’s been headlining for years, as he delivered a lopsided five-round decision victory over veteran contender Brad Tavares at The Palms in Las Vegas.

Scores were 49-46 and 50-45 twice for Auckland’s Adesanya, now 14-0. The No. 8-ranked Tavares falls to 17-6.

The first round was largely a tactical one broken up by sporadic bursts of action, most of them initiated by Adesanya. Tavares was unbothered by anything coming his way from the New Zealander, but he didn’t deliver enough offense to take the frame.

Picking up the pace for round two, Adesanya landed a hard kick to the head in the second minute that got Tavares’ attention and prompted the Hawaiian to seek a clinch. Adesanya smoothly maneuvered out of trouble and got back to range. With under two minutes left, Adesanya got a stern warning from referee Herb Dean for keeping his fingers facing Tavares, but moments later, it was a kick to the body that briefly rattled the veteran 185-pounder.

A flush knee to the head by Adesanya in the second minute of the third stanza appeared to fire Tavares up, but the more aggressive he got, the more “The Last Stylebender” found the openings to score with more telling blows. With a little over two minutes left, Tavares saw a takedown stuffed, and while he was getting more aggressive, he wasn’t able to take Adesanya out of his comfort zone. And as the round progressed, Adesanya began punishing his foe with a variety of strikes.

Tavares made a rush at Adesanya to start the fourth and he was able to get the fight to the mat in the opening minute, taking Adesanya’s back briefly before the two rose. Adesanya stayed cool, ultimately getting back to his feet, where he used a short elbow to cut Tavares below the eyebrow. The Octagonside physician took a look at the cut before allowing Tavares to continue, but things didn’t get any better for the Hawaiian when the action resumed.

And whether on the feet or the ground, Adesanya continued to dominate and punish Tavares in the fifth round, with only Tavares’ heart keeping him in the fight until the final horn.

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