Rob Whittaker continues rise; defeats Natal at UFC 197

Many questioned Robert Whittaker’s move from welterweight to the middleweight division back in 2014 but the move has proved a successful one with Whittaker securing his fourth straight win in the division.

The Sydney based fighter defeated number-13 ranked middleweight contender Rafael Natal via unanimous decision earlier today on the main card of UFC 197.

The event took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, USA was broadcast live on Mainevent pay-per-view on Sunday.

The fight was predominantly contested standing with Whittaker successfully defending the takedown attempts from Natal. The Brazilian landed leg-kicks however a looping left rocked Natal near the end of the first round.

It was much the same in the second as both fighters threw heavy shots with Whittaker defending an early takedown attempt and snapping Natal’s head with another overhand. Natal continued to pepper Whittaker’s thighs with leg-kicks.

Whittaker’s punches found their mark with a high accuracy in the third final round as the Australian based fighter pushed through the leg-kicks that were starting to take their toll.It would still be Whittaker who would be on the front foot, stuffing the takedowns and landing solid punches that had Natal stumbling but able to hang on to the final bell.

All three judges awarded the fight to Whittaker who pushed his professional record to 16-4 (UFC 7-2). 33-year-old Natal drops to 21-7-1 (UFC 9-5-1).

The main event was headlined by the return of former light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones whom after a prolonged time away from the cage, returned and captured the interim light-heavyweight title with a unanimous decision over Ovince Saint Preux.

In the co-main event, Demetrious Johnson made claims to the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet with a first-round stoppage over previously unbeaten Henry Cejudo.

Main Card (Mainevent PPV):

  • Jon Jones def. Ovince Saint Preux via Decision (Unanimous)
  • Demetrious Johnson def. Henry Cejudo via TKO (Knees to Body), Rd 1, 2:49
  • Edson Barboza def. Anthony Pettis via Decision (Unanimous)
  • Robert Whittaker def. Rafael Natal via Decision (Unanimous)
  • Yair Rodriguez def. Andre Fili via KO (Head-Kick), Rd 2, 2:15

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports):

  • Sergio Pettis def. Chris Kelades via Decision (Unanimous)
  • Danny Roberts def. Dominique Steele via Decision (Unanimous)
  • Carla Esparza def. Juliana Lima via Decision (Unanimous)
  • James Vick def. Glaico Franca via Decision (Unanimous)

Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass):

  • Walt Harris def Cody East via TKO (Punches), Rd 1, 4:18
  • Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Clint Hester via Submission (Arm-Triange Choke), Rd 1, 4:35
  • Kevin Lee def. Efrain Escudero via Decision (Unanimous)
Started Martial Arts training after watching Mr Miyagi and Daniel-son in Karate Kid back in 1987. By the time MMA arrived many years later, I was hooked. Coverage of local MMA was via scarce posts on forums like the Underground and Sherdog. I embarked on covering the sport in 2002 and since then have written thousands of articles for both print and online media, before branching out and starting Fight News Australia in 2010. Outside the site, I dream of riding in an F1 car.