UFC 271: Adesanya vs. Whittaker II Staff Predictions

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UFC 271 is now two sleeps away, and our staff is ready to get you even more amped up for the second pay-per-view event of 2022!

UFC 271 will be available exclusively on ESPN+ pay-per-view on Saturday, February 12. The main card begins at 10:00 PM ET, and the ESPN2 preliminary card kicks off at 8:00 PM. The early preliminary card starts at 6:00 PM.

The main event will feature a rematch between two of the best middleweights to ever do it when Israel Adesanya faces Robert Whittaker again. Whittaker earned the rematch by winning three consecutive fights on his journey toward redemption. Will he get it? Our staff will dig into the predictions ahead.

The co-main event is quite the tricky bout to predict, as it will feature two men who can stop the show at any moment when KO king Derrick Lewis takes on Tai Tuivasa, who has won all but one of his 14 wins by KO, including every one of his four-fight winning streak.

Also on the main card, an unofficial title eliminator between Jared Cannonier and Derek Brunson is set to take place. We will also see Kyler Phillips try to bounce back from his first UFC loss against Marcelo Rojo and veteran Bobby Green return to the Octagon against Nasrat Haqparast.

UFC 271 Staff Predictions

MMA News is the place to be for all the latest UFC 271 updates. Harvey Leonard, Andrew Ravens, Ed Carbajal, and special guest Tyriece Simon have provided their picks for you.

Here is the full main card lineup for UFC 271:

UFC Middleweight Championship: Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Robert Whittaker

Heavyweight: Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa

Middleweight: Jared Cannonier vs. Derek Brunson

Bantamweight: Kyler Phillips vs. Marcelo Rojo

Lightweight: Bobby Green vs. Nasrat Haqparast

Bobby Green vs. Nasrat Haqparast

Bobby Green, Nasrat Haqparast

Harvey Leonard: There is certainly more pressure on Haqparast in this one. The German’s striking speed is impressive, and if he can utilize his reach advantage and land at a high volume, he could edge a decision, like how Fiziev did against Green last year. However, Haqparast can often fall into the trap of becoming too predictable. Against an experienced campaigner like Green, it’s hard to picture that going unpunished.

The key for Haqparast will be variety and change-ups on the feet, something Green could look to stifle with takedowns and wrestling, similar to Hooker’s UFC 266 game plan, or a mixed striking approach himself. I give a narrow edge to “King.” (Prediction: Bobby Green)

Andrew Ravens: A tough fight for both guys as Green is always game and going to bring a fistfight to anyone who steps up to him, so it’s going to be a fun fight. Nasrat has a lot of upside and probably hasn’t even hit his prime yet. I’ll side with Hasrat by decision. (Prediction: Nasrat Haqparast)

Ed Carbajal: This opener should make for an exciting lightweight bout. Green’s experience could trump the youth and inexperience of Haqparast, but in today’s realm of combat sports, it’s never been more obvious that MMA is a young man’s game. Green certainly has the ingredients to put Haqparast away early, but if it goes longer than one and a half rounds, I’m going with the younger fighter. (Prediction: Nasrat Haqparast)

Tyriece Simon: This fight should be really entertaining. Bobby Green has good head movement and striking. He also has the wrestling that he can mix with his striking to create problems for Nasrat Haqparast. I think it will be a close fight, but Green gets the win. (Prediction: Bobby Green)

Final Scorecard: 2-2 Draw

Kyler Phillips vs. Marcelo Rojo

Kyler Phillips, Marcelo Rojo

Harvey Leonard: Phillips has impressed so far, and his win over Yadong should not be understated. He also shouldn’t have been handed a loss to Paiva. While he’ll be looking to get back on track, Rojo will hope to rebound from his debut defeat, with his place in the promotion likely on the line.

Unfortunately, I think it’s unlikely he’ll be able to outpoint the more well-rounded Phillips. And given that the 26-year-old has never been finished, it looks set to be a tough task for Rojo. If he can attack Phillips’ lead leg and slow his movement, and if Phillips pushes too hard for a battle on the feet and a KO, Rojo will have a chance, but I see it as a slim one. (Prediction: Kyler Phillips)

Andrew Ravens: This is going to be a real challenge for Rojo, who is making his second UFC appearance here. Kyler will likely never be a champion, but he is someone who is solid competition and everything I’ve seen makes it seem like this is going to be a one-sided beatdown with Kyler getting it done by submission. (Prediction: Kyler Phillips)

Ed Carbajal: Phillips is a bantamweight that came out of LFA, one of the places the UFC farms a lot of talent from that does very well once they’re signed. He is coming off a loss, but it was a decision loss, which means he was never out of the fight. Rojo came to the UFC from Combate Global and has had a few ups and downs. He’s coming off a loss, too, and while that should motivate both men for a finish, Phillips is more likely to get one. (Prediction: Kyler Phillips)

Tyriece Simon: Kyler Phillips wants to rebound from his majority decision loss against Raulian Paiva. Before his loss against Paiva, Phillips had won three fights straight, including a win over Song Yadong. Meanwhile, Rojo is looking to get his first win in the UFC. I think Phillips’ striking and speed will be too much for Rojo. (Prediction: Kyler Phillips)

Final Scorecard: 4-0 Phillips

Jared Cannonier vs. Derek Brunson

Derek Brunson Jared Cannonier
Derek Brunson Jared Cannonier

Harvey Leonard: There’s only so many times I can count Brunson out before I learn not to underestimate him. However, I’m going to try my luck one last time. Brunson’s game plan is clear. And if he executes it like he did against Till, he’ll win.

But against a middleweight as experienced and powerful as Cannonier, not to mention his strong takedown defense, I can’t see Brunson being able to turn this into a wrestling match, and anything but that favors “The Killa Gorilla.” (Prediction: Jared Cannonier)

Andrew Ravens: Brunson gets it done here. The longtime star has been on fire as of late and collected an impressive winning streak. Jared is a tough guy and one of the best in the division. His only loss since 2018 came against Robert Whittaker, and that should tell you all that you need to know. At 38-years-old, Brunson knows that if he wants to fight for a title, he needs to keep winning, so I think heart and focus will outperform Jared. (Prediction: Derek Brunson)

Ed Carbajal: This fight is pretty even despite the experience of Brunson over Cannonier in their MMA careers. Brunson has a slight height advantage but not enough to matter, and they’re pretty even in reach. Cannonier’s striking output seems to be greater than Brunson’s, so I would not be surprised if we see a lot of takedowns from Brunson, and that could get him a decision win. (Prediction: Derek Brunson)

Tyriece Simon: Derek Brunson has looked impressive, relying on his wrestling to win dominantly in his last four fights. However, Jared Cannonier has good takedown defense at middleweight (only been taken down once since moving to middleweight) and has power in his hands to knockout Brunson. I think Cannonier keeps the fight standing and beats Brunson. (Prediction: Jared Cannonier)

Final Scorecard: 2-2 Draw

Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa

Tai Tuivasa, Derrick Lewis
Tai Tuivasa, Derrick Lewis

Harvey Leonard: It’s pretty unique to have a fight where a KO/TKO is effectively guaranteed, but the winner is so hard to predict. This could well come down to whoever gets a clean shot in first. My gut tells me the more patient Lewis will be able to catch the fast-starting Tuivasa as he rushes in.

However, Tuivasa’s recent admission that he’ll have to fight “smart” has encouraged me about his chances. I see this one as pretty much a coin flip, but I’m leaning 51/49 in favor of “The Black Beast.” (Prediction: Derrick Lewis)

Andrew Ravens: Tai has been on a roll as of late while Lewis is looking to continue the ball rolling forward in his hometown. Most will side with Lewis to win here, and I think he gets it done by decision. Although Tai is a tough dude and will test the gas tank of the fan-favorite, I don’t think he has the skills to outstrike Lewis. (Prediction: Derrick Lewis)

Ed Carbajal: Up until UFC 265, Lewis was undefeated in Texas. That loss was to Ciryl Gane and his fifth time being T/KO’d. Tuivasa has only been T/KO’d once in his professional career, so if the chins are going to be checked between these two fan favorites, I would not be surprised if the underdog, Tuivasa pays off in this matchup. I don’t think home-field advantage matters anymore in combat sports. (Prediction: Tai Tuivasa)

Tyriece Simon: The last time Lewis fought in Houston, Texas, he lost to Ciryl Gane. I think Lewis wants to win at home, and he has the power to knock out any heavyweight. I also believe that Tuivasa will want to fight in close distance to knock out Lewis, and he will get hurt instead. (Prediction: Derrick Lewis)

Final Scorecard: 3-1 Lewis

Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker

Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya
Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya, Photo credit: Zuffa LLC

Harvey Leonard: Adesanya has grown into a unique position where I think he’s almost impossible to bet against, at least at middleweight. Having seen Vettori’s failed attempts to take the champ down last year, I can’t envision Whittaker being able to impose his will in the grappling department. Beyond that, how does he win? Can he outstrike Adesanya? Finish him? It’s tough to see.

But outside of his loss to Adesanya, “The Reaper” is unbeaten since 2014 and has looked unstoppable in his last three fights. If he’s at his best, and really is a “different beast” on the feet now, as his manager claims, there’s no one more likely to hand Adesanya his first blemish at 185 pounds. I expect a tight contest, but one “The Last Stylebender” edges. (Prediction: Israel Adesanya)

Andrew Ravens: Finally, the rematch that we’ve all been waiting for. The shine on Israel has started to fade compared to where he had been when he first won the title. On the flip side, Whittaker has done everything right to get back to this spot and fight for a title while also doing it in an interesting fashion.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked if Whittaker wins here by split decision, as I think he’s going to give Israel a real challenge. However, I do think Israel is currently the best fighter in the division, so I’ll side with him getting it done by decision. (Prediction: Israel Adesanya )

Ed Carbajal: This main event doesn’t seem as hyped as the first time around. Probably because the first time went so well for Adesanya, it’s hard to think anything will go differently the second time around. But it’s fun to think it would, right? Whittaker did take some time off, so there’s always a chance, but not big enough for me to not go with the current champion. (Prediction: Israel Adesanya)

Tyriece Simon: This fight is tough to call because of how skilled both fighters are. In the first fight, Robert Whittaker returned after a year recovering from injuries against a very active Israel Adesanya. In his last three wins, Whittaker looked healthy and motivated to reclaim the UFC middleweight championship.

While Adesanya has looked sensational and unbeatable at middleweight, I think Whittaker has the skills to give him problems. He may be the underdog in the fight, but I believe Whittaker can pull off the upset. (Prediction: Robert Whittaker)

Final Scorecard: 3-1 Adesanya

That’ll do it for our UFC 271 staff picks! What do you think? Do your picks look similar? Let us know in the comments section! Also, you can check out the UFC 271 undercard below.

UFC 271 Preliminary Card (ESPN, ESPN+, 8:00 PM ET)

  • Heavyweight: Andrei Arlovski vs. Jared Vanderaa
  • Women’s Flyweight: Roxanne Modafferi vs. Casey O’Neill
  • Flyweight: Alex Perez vs. Matt Schnell
  • Light Heavyweight: William Knight vs. Maxim Grishin

UFC 271 Early Preliminary Card (ESPN+, UFC Fight Pass, 6:00 PM ET)

  • Bantamweight: Mana Martinez vs. Ronnie Lawrence
  • Lightweight: Alexander Hernandez vs. Renato Moicano
  • Light Heavyweight: Carlos Ulberg vs. Fabio Cherant
  • Middleweight: AJ Dobson vs. Jacob Malkoun
  • Bantamweight: Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Sergey Morozov
  • Welterweight: Jeremiah Wells vs. Mike Mathetha

Be sure to keep it right here on MMANews.com tomorrow for all the results, highlights, and updates on UFC 271!

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