Tavares falls in Ultimate Fighter finale

By GREG BEACHAM

The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Israel Adesanya announced his arrival as a UFC middleweight contender with a dominant unanimous-decision victory over veteran and Oahu native Brad Tavares on Saturday night.

In just his third UFC fight, Adesanya (14-0), a Nigerian-born New Zealander, showed off a wealth of technique and ability against a tough UFC veteran. Fighting confidently and creatively, he battered and bloodied Tavares (18-6), who had won four straight bouts since 2015.

Earlier, Canadian featherweight Brad Katona and New Jersey lightweight Michael Trizano earned UFC contracts by winning the final bouts in their respective brackets in the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

But the night was a showcase for Adesanya, who won 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46 on the judges’ scorecards.

“I’m just getting warmed up,” Adesanya said.

Tavares was headlining a fight card for the first time in 16 UFC bouts over the past eight years. Adesanya accomplished the feat in just his third fight, a sign of the UFC’s excitement about his ability to impact the 185-pound division.

Adesanya showed off his athletic ferociousness early on, trying unorthodox strikes and rolling submission moves to keep Tavares off-balance.