After making his debut in February, Israel Adesanya will aim for his third UFC win on July 6.
The middleweight prospect will take on a division staple in Brad Tavares in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale in Las Vegas.
It appears “The Last Stylebender” is looking to have a busy year. Adesanya (13-0) won his UFC debut against Rob Wilkinson via TKO in February. He then went on to defeat Marvin Vettori by split decision just last month at UFC on Fox: Poirier vs. Gaethje.
On the same card, Brad Tavares defeated Krzysztof Jotko via TKO in the third round. Tavares (17-4) is currently riding a four-fight win streak, with his only loss since 2014 to the current middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.
In Adesanya’s post fight interview in Glendale, Arizona, he mentioned Tavares would be a fight he’s interested in next.
“Next… I heard Brad called me out. Brad Tavares. So if he wants it, he can get it,” Adesanya said.
“They can all look at this fight and think, ‘Oh, he’s been exposed’ or whatever. Let them think that. Come see me. And you’ll see what happens when you’re in there with me.”
Tavares spoke to Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour following his win and seemed more interested in a fight with Michael Bisping, but said he’d take the fight if the money was right.
“Honestly, I don’t think the kid, Israel, deserves a fight with me. But if that’s what the UFC wants and they’re gonna pay me, I don’t care who it is standing across with me. I’ll smash them,” said Tavares.
“If [the next fight] is this guy, Israel, then I’m gonna smash this hype train.”
With 16 UFC fights under his belt, Tavares, ranked 10th, will be a big step up in competition for Adesanya. Furthermore, as a main event, the bout will be five rounds. Adesanya’s last fight was the first time he’d seen a third round, having finished all his previous opponents in two or less.
Adesanya, 28, is widely considered a hot prospect for the UFC with his elite kickboxing background and charismatic personality. The decision to have him showcased in the main event despite it being his third appearance, proves the UFC sees Adesanya as a worthy investment.
The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale will be held at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Other bouts scheduled for the card include a middleweight fight between Alessio Di Chirico and Julian Marquez, as well as two women’s flyweight fights: Barb Honchak vs. Roxanne Modafferi and Montana De La Rosa vs. Rachael Ostovich.
The card will be the first to kick off International Fight Week and will be held the day prior to UFC 226. UFC 226 will feature a heavyweight super fight between light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, who both coached season 27 of The Ultimate Fighter.