Abu Dhabi, July 26: Robert Whittaker dominated Darren Till to get back among the win column in the headliner of UFC Fight Island 3 which took place on Sunday (July 26) at the Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs Till was the final event live from Fight Island in a partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi. It rounded out a hugely successful July that kicked off with the blockbuster UFC 251 with three title fights, followed by three back to back Fight Nights.
In the main event and final bout on fight Island, former middleweight champion, No.1 ranked contender Robert Whittaker and No.5 ranked Darren Till showcased high level MMA striking techniques and tactics with moments of near fight ending action from both.
As the fight went into rounds four and five, Whittaker upped his momentum with damaging kicks and constant take down attempts, while Till used his elbows to do damage. Whittaker's work earned him the 48-47 unanimous decision and it gets him closer to a chance at reclaiming his title.
Following the fight, Whittaker said, "Honestly, I feel over the world. I guess that was one of the most technical fights I've ever had, to be able to share the Octagon with him was a privilege. I want to go home to my babies and my wife.
He also added that he would like to fight for the title soon.
"I would love to fight for a title, I would love that. I'm world championship level, that's who I am, I'm a world champion, with or without the belt, and I would love to fight for that."
In an iconic co-main event, legendary Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and former UFC light heavyweight champion, Hall of Famer Mauricio Shogun Rua came full circle from their first encounter 15 years earlier.
With furious action, Nogueira's left hand power punches and Rua's baseball bat-like low kicks created a thrilling reenactment for the entire three rounds. Once again, Rua took home the win on the score cards, and Nogueira retired from the sport with a commendable and emotional performance.
Also on the main card, former champion Fabricio Werdum welcomed Alexander Gustafsson to the heavyweight division with his trademark Brazilian jiu jitsu dominance.
After a brief clash on the feet, Werdum ferociously sought the takedown, and proceeded to transition to an arm bar, forcing Gustafsson to tap quickly in the very first round.
Meanwhile, in a pivotal bout between rankers in the women's strawweight division, former champion No.7 ranked Carla Esparza had control of No.9 ranked Marina Rodriguez with her back on the canvas through three rounds, but she absorbed many significant strikes in order to keep her there. In the end, Esparza got a split decision on the score cards and the win makes the road to champion Zhang Weili's belt much more interesting.
Earlier, Paul Craig showed off the brilliance of Brazilian jiu jitsu in MMA as he hung on through some punches rained down by Gadzhimurad Antigulov en route to securing a tight triangle submission. The tap out came at just 2:06 of the first round, and that earned Craig the win and his 12th submission victory.
Alex Oliveira put in a strong three rounds against Peter Sobotta that included some devastating kicks. The striking showcase earned Oliveira the clear decision victory from all three judges.
In the main card opener, Khamzat Chimaev got his wish of a rapid turnaround match on Fight Island against Rhys McKee, and with a resounding TKO victory, he has become a budding star in the welterweight division.
In the preliminary card, there were decision wins for Movsar Evloev, Pannie Kianzad, Ramazan Emeev and Nathaniel Wood, while Francisco Trinaldo, Jesse Ronson, Tom Aspinall and Tanner Boser earned stoppage wins.
Final results of UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs Till
1. Middleweight bout: Robert Whittaker defeated Darren Till via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
2. Light Heavyweight bout: Mauricio Rua defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueira via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
3. Heavyweight bout: Fabricio Werdum defeated Alexander Gustafsson via arm bar at 2:30 of round 1
4. Women's Strawweight bout: Carla Esparza defeated Marina Rodriguez via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
5. Light Heavyweight bout: Paul Craig defeated Gadzhimurad Antigulov via triangle choke at 2:06 of round 1
6. Welterweight bout: Alex Oliveira defeated Peter Sobotta via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
7. Welterweight bout: Khamzat Chimaev defeated Rhys McKee via TKO at 3:09 of round 1
1. Lightweight bout: Francisco Trinaldo defeated Jai Herbert via TKO at 1:30 of round 3
2. Welterweight bout: Jesse Ronson defeated Nicolas Dalby via rear naked choke at 2:48 of round 1
3. Heavyweight bout: Tom Aspinall defeated Jake Collier via TKO at 0:45 of round 1
4. Featherweight bout: Movsar Evloev defeated Mike Grundy via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
5. Heavyweight bout: Tanner Boser defeated Raphael Pessoa via TKO at 2:36 of round 2
6. Women's Bantamweight bout: Pannie Kianzad defeated Bethe Correia via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
7. Welterweight bout: Ramazan Emeev defeated Niklas Stolze via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
8. Bantamweight bout: Nathaniel Wood defeated John Castaneda via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)