UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will meet interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 243 on October 5 (October 6 local) at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, the promotion confirmed on Tuesday.
“This is the perfect fight at the perfect time with the two best athletes in the division,” UFC president Dana White told the Melbourne Herald Sun.
Whittaker has not been in the Octagon since his UFC 225 victory over Yoel Romero on June 9, 2018. It was the champion’s first defence of his belt, but Romero missed weight prior to the fight.
The 28-year-old has twice been forced out of headlining fights in his home country of Australia. He was scheduled to defend the middleweight crown against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 at Perth Arena in February of 2018, but was hospitalized due to a staph infection that put him in serious condition.
He was also supposed to face Kelvin Gastelum at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, but a few hours before the bout he was scratched due to a hernia which required surgery.
Whittaker is on a nine-fight winning streak.
Adesanya earned his way into the UFC 243 unification bout by winning the interim strap at UFC 236 with a victory over Gastelum.
The 29-year-old is an undefeated 17-0 in his MMA career, including six victories in the UFC since joining the promotion in 2017.
The New Zealander also holds wins over Rob Wilkinson, Marvin Vettori, Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson and MMA legend Anderson Silva during his time in the UFC.