Robert Whittaker defeated Jared Cannonier in their title eliminator at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi early on Sunday to most probably book a rematch with middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
The New Zealand-born Australian, who lost the belt to Adesanya late last year, dispatched Cannonier via unanimous decision at Flash Forum – his second victory in the capital in four months.
All three judges gave Whittaker, who knocked down Cannonier in the third round, 29-28.
As the division’s No 1-ranked challenger, and having seen off the No 2 Cannonier, Whittaker will almost certainly go up against former foe Adesanya once more, potentially early next year.
UFC 254 brings to a close “Return to Fight Island”, the UFC’s second residency in Abu Dhabi.