Watch UFC Striking Wizard Israel Adesanya Style All Over His Opponent

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2018

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 06:  (R-L) Israel Adesanya of Nigeria taunts Brad Tavares in their middleweight bout during The Ultimate Fighter Finale event inside The Pearl concert theater at Palms Casino Resort on July 6, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Brad Tavares was supposed to be too much, too soon for Israel Adesanya. The Hawaiian's strong clinchwork was supposed to bottle him up and keep him from leveraging his extraordinary striking skills. It was supposed to be a momentum-killing loss that stopped the former Glory kickboxer's rise to the top dead in its tracks.

So much for that, huh?

Shaheen Al-Shatti @shaunalshatti

Y'all, @allelbows is my hero. https://t.co/CFZ3fhn9Nk

At the finale to The Ultimate Fighter season 27 on Friday, Adesanya utterly picked apart his opponent. Not only that, but because of his dazzling fighting style, he often did so in the most stylish ways possible. The Nigerian essentially produced an entire highlight reel in one fight, and naturally, social media took notice and immortalized some of the highlights.

Right from the start of the fight, it was clear that there was a profound difference between the men's striking skills. Tavares managed to sneak in a few solid punches, sure, but the kicking game 100 percent belonged to Adesanya:

UFC @ufc

Body shot drops Tavares! @Stylebender lands a nasty liver kick, but Tavares recovers! #TUF27 https://t.co/YyAufXq5gN

Tavares knew that he wasn't going to be able to match Adesanya strike-for-strike and actively looked to turn things into a grappling match. Almost every attempt to clinch and every shot for a takedown, however, was thwarted and punished. As time went on, Adesanya had Tavares' patterns down pat and began to halt offensive advances before they even began:

UFC @ufc

HUGE right hand backs Tavares up. @Stylebender looking sharp through three rounds! #TUF27 https://t.co/xBFJBiAoki

Though Tavares managed to show off both a sturdy chin and incredible cardio, he inevitably slowed down in the second half of the fight. That afforded Adesanya even more room for creativity, most notably landing this sneaky, vicious elbow:

UFC @ufc

That elbow tho ... @Stylebender #TUF27 https://t.co/zXeRXU4N5C

That strike nearly ended the fight, as it opened up a cut on Tavares' eyelid. The Las Vegas Review-Journal nabbed a perfect photo of the moment (warning: NSFW):

Ben Fowlkes @benfowlkesMMA

My god, this photo from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Captures the exact moment that Israel Adesanya extracted a piece of Brad Tavares' face, using his elbow as a scalpel. https://t.co/Cd5pAf1mOr

Though he was allowed to continue, Tavares had nothing to offer Adesanya as the moments wore on. That resulted in a clean sweep of the scorecards and yet another win for the Last Stylebender.

Now 14-0 in his career (3-0 in the UFC), it feels like the sky's the limit for Adesanya. It will be interesting to see who he faces in his next fight and whether he is given a quick turnaround or is given more time to sharpen up in the gym.