Live updates: Israel Adesanya vs Derek Brunson - UFC 230

Cormier vs Lewis - Cormier wins via second-round submission

Round two - Lewis swings hard to start the round, overhand right almost catches DC who quickly circles away. Switch kick from the "Black Beast"! DC gets a takedown but Lewis pops straight back to his feet. DC grabs a leg and down they go again. DC moves to the back and here comes the choke, under the neck it goes and the tap comes quickly. Lewis' first loss via submission, the champ-champ rolls on.

Round one - DC has the single leg early, and down goes Lewis. This is far from ideal for Lewis, to say the least. Nice defence from leiws as he works his way back to his feet, but DC is still putting all his weight on his back. DC now works his way into half-guard, Lewis limiting the damage so far. Now the shots start to rain down from DC, Lewis turtles effectively and round comes to a close. Comfy round in the bag for the champ.

Chris Weidman vs Jacare Souza - Souza wins via third-round knock-out

Round three - This is going to be good...Souza opens proceedings with some brutal body shots, looks to clinch then rips some to the body. Weidman fires back with some deft combos, showing off that improved striking. Huge Weidman uppercut, then a straight-right - he's pouring it on now, great pace. Souza swings back, hefty right hand to the temple sends Weidman to the canvas like a felled Kauri. He's out cold. Souza awaits the ref's stoppage but for some explicable reason he lets the fight continue, two more shots and this is done.

Round two - Weidman working the jab nicely, looking really sharp on the feet. Starts to mix in some leg kicks, then goes to the body. Very technical strikes and they're finding their mark. Souza now, looks to turn the fight into a scrap and he does so effectively, heavy overhands. Weidman with the counter right and that's stung Souza, who's now bleeding from the nose. Weidman catches him again and sends Souza to his knee, then leaps into a clinch. definitely a spot of fence-grabbing as pins Souza to the fence. Brilliant fight right here. That's Weidman's round on my card.

Round one - Souza circling Weidman early, both tentative to engae. Souza starts reaching with the overhand, Weidman tucks up well. Weidman with a crisp one-two combination and he wobbles Souza, the crowd gasps but Souza recovers his legs. Encouraging signs early for the hometown hero. Souza lunges with the knee and that caught Weidman, the American stumbles. Tight round.

4:35pm - You can't get more All American than Weidman, as he makes his entrance to the Tom Petty banger 'I Won't Back Down'.

4:25pm - Weidman vs Jacare on the way, folks.

Branch vs Cannonier - Cannonier wins via second-round KO

Wow, that was some terrifying power from Cannonier, who swarmed the wounded Branch and unloaded with some heavy ground n pound to force the stoppage. Huge win.

4:20pm - Sorry team, a quick break to write about how incredible that Adesanya performance was, but we're back to it.

Karl Roberson defeated veteran Jack Marshamn with ease, earning a 10-8 round on his way to earning a unanimous decision.

Adesanya vs Brunson -Adesanya wins via first-round KO

3:25pm - Adesanya boogies down with the celebration, sticks his afro pick in his hair and wraps his arm around Rogan.

"This one wasn't a walk in the park, it was a walk in the garden."

Round one - Brunson goes straight for the bodylock, Adesnya balances well and voids going to the deck. Adesanya against the cage, fighting off the underhooks. Adesanya is heated as herb Dean breaks them up, twice Brunson grabbed shorts and the Kiwi is livid! Flips him the bird and tells Brunson he's going to "f**k him up". Brunson goes back to the leg, has him against the cage but Adesanya circles away from the overhand rights. Minimal offence so far from the Kiwi. Now the headkick with the question mark, clips Brunson. Brunson again clinches, he wants no part of the stand-up with Adesanya. He's holding Adesanya but isn't doing any damage or advance position. Oh Adesanya catches him with the knee, Brunson stumbles! Adesnya separates, head kicks, back Brunson goes on his butt. Up comes the American and he's caught with two laser strikes, herb Dean steps in and this one is over! Magnificent performance from the Kiwi.

3:17pm - The inimitable Bruce Buffer launches into this introductions. Adesanya with his patented Dragonball Z opener. Let's go!

3:15pm - Brunson closely in tow. The American has eight of his last nine finishes in round one, Adesanya will need to be alert from the very outset.

3:13pm - Here comes the Kiwi, strutting his way to the middle while oozing his trademark calm confidence.

3:05pm - Adesanya set to make his Octagon entrance momentarily...

3pm - There it is, Rinaldi takes the unanimous decision. he looks more excited to be meeting Joe Rogan, and who could blame him. Pay-per-view now about to get underway, hang tight.

2:55pm - Rinaldi and Knight go the distance and it looks like it should be comfortable win for Rinaldi, who controlled the fight with a dominant top-game.

2:45pm - Adesanya makes his entrance into New York's iconic Madison Square Garden a little earlier, looking as composed as ever.

2:40 pm - Not long to go now, NZ fight fans. Jason Knight and Jordan Rinaldi just wrapped up the opening round of their contest in what will be the final fight on the preliminary undercard before we head into paid programming.

Kia ora and welcome to live coverage from Madison Square Garden as New Zealand’s Israel Adesanya squares off with Derek Brunson  at UFC 230.

The main card will be headlined by Dan Cormier, who'll look to defend his heavyweight title against Derrick Lewis.

But for NZ fight fans, it's all about the fortunes of "The Last Stylebender" as he attempts to take another step up the UFC's middleweight rankings with a win over hard-hitting wrestler Brunson.

Fight-by-fight coverage will start from around 3pm. In the meantime, check out the video above for a preview of today's showdown.


Head to head:

Israel Adesanya ($1.30) vs Derek Brunson ($3.30)

Chris Weidman ($1.55) vs Ronaldo Souza ($2.35)

Dan Cormier ($1.18) vs Derrick Lewis ($4.50)


Main Fight Card:

Jason Knight vs Jordan Rinaldi

Israel Adesanya vs Derek Brunson

Karl Roberson vs Jack Marshman

David Branch vs Jared Canonier

Chris Weidman vs Jacare Souza

Daniel Cormier vs Derrick Lewis


Pre-match banter

NY State of Mind: Israel Adesanya talks UFC 230, title dreams, and getting high with Joe Rogan

By Stephen Foote

It's been a heady rise to stardom for Kiwi MMA phenom Israel Adesanya.

The UFC fighter, known as 'The Last Stylebender', has reeled off three consecutive wins on the sport's biggest stage in 2018, becoming an instant fan-favourite with his blend of sniper-like striking and magnetic persona.

But Adesanya truly realised how high he was now flying - in more ways than one - during an encounter of a different kind.

"I went to [Joe Rogan's] green room at his comedy show last year and I was hanging out with him, and they were passing around the joint," Adesanya told Newshub.

"I checked it for a second, thinking 'I'm in Joe Rogan's green room smoking a joint - alright'. All that fame facade goes away and I felt like I belonged there."

That encounter resulted in an appearance on the comedian and UFC commentator's podcast - The Joe Rogan Experience - one of the world's most popular podcasts, registering more than 30 million downloads per month.

That appearance was a throwback to an earlier chapter of his life, when a wide-eyed Adesanya endured a 9-5 existence by day and trained by night.

"That podcast saved me from going postal at my old work," he said. "It saved me from the monotony of all that mundane shit.

"I'd just have it in my ear, laughing. My boss hated it, but I always found a way - hoodie up, whatever it took.

"Going from that to actually being on the podcast and talking some shit with him, drinking some whiskey - it was cool. Something I can just tick off the bucket list."

On Sunday (NZ time), Adesanya has a prime opportunity to take a giant step closer to another item on that list - a UFC world title. 

The 28-year-old will square off with Derek Brunson at New York City's iconic Madison Square Garden at UFC230 - just the third time the historic headquarters of fights sports has hosted an MMA event, after the promotion finally had a ban overturned in 2016.

"Ever since that happened, the ban got lifted, it's cool that we can carry on the tradition of combat sports in NYC," Adensaya said.

"You can have boxing shows, kickboxing shows there - but the future of combats sports is mixed martial arts.

"This is the truest test of combat, this is the new age gladiator sport. People just need to bring that money over here. "

The UFC has had Adesanya earmarked for stardom since his debut, following a first-round KO of Rob Wilkinson in Perth.

His most recent win - a three-round dismantling of Brad Tavares - was billed as a main event, which saw him join a select group of fighters to have made such a rapid rise. That group includes the likes of transcendent Irish superstar Conor McGregor.

Adesanya isn't the type to shy from a spotlight. In fact, he's embraced it with the unbridled confidence that's helped fuel his success to date.

"I feel more comfortable, like I belong and I'm supposed to be here," he said. "I feel like none of these guys are better than me.

"I'm the guy they're all looking at. That's just the drive - it's not greedy, it's just drive.

"A lot of people, especially in Kiwi culture, tend to downplay their own achievements in order to make other people feel comfortable.

"I don't follow trends, I make my own trends. I'm the guy who will say what he wants to do and I'll put myself out there, and if I fall on my face and eat shit, then cool.

"Any time that's ever happened, I always know I'll be fine. That's my saving grace.

"I know that no matter what, this is just temporary. I'll be fine, I'll come back and I'll dominate."

That's where head trainer Eugene Bareman - the mastermind behind Auckland fighter factory, City Kickboxing - has seen the biggest growth in Adesanya, who's one of four UFC-contracted fighters in his stable.

"Israel has been pulled aside and picked out as potential star, so his media obligations have been huge," Bareman said.

"He meets all of them to their full, he does really well, but that's a massive distraction for someone who can't necessarily handle all of that, especially on fight week.

"Dealing with that - the bright lights, the pressure, the big stage - it's something he's dealt with before, but not in this capacity. That's where he's made the most improvement."

And the 'Big Apple' will provide the biggest stage yet for the undefeated Adesanya (14-0) to showcase his wares, with the stakes higher than ever.

The current landscape at middleweight is trending heavily in the ninth-ranked Kiwi's favour. A loss for former champion Chris Weidman to Jacare Souza on the same night in New York, coupled with the cancellation of Yoel Romero's bout with Diego Costa and the injury to Luke Rockhold, would see Adesanya right at the front of the queue to challenge NZ-born Australian Robert Whittaker for the belt.

Of course, Adesanya must negotiate his way past the significant challenge presented by Brunson (18-6). The 34-year-old American is a dynamic wrestler with exceptional power, who has a knack for drawing opponents into his chaotic style, then catching them with a shot in a scramble.

Auckland fans saw that first-hand, when he featured on last year's card at Spark Arena and switched Australian Dan Kelly's lights off barely a minute into their contest.

"It's his biggest downfall, but his awkwardness is also his biggest challenge as well," Adesanya noted.

"It's about me being able to calibrate him in the moment, read him in the moment, adjust to what I need to do, then take him apart.

"He's random, but even in that randomness, he still has patterns. So that's the thing, I can recognise those and so have these guys," Adesanya says, gesturing towards Bareman.

According to Bareman, the key to solving Brunson's unorthodox puzzle lies in one critical component - positioning.

"[Adesanya] has to out-position Brunson, first and foremost," he notes. "That's going to give him that split-second advantage that he's going to need.

"Brunson has no idea about position, he just goes on instinct. Israel can be one step ahead of him through the whole fight, if he has superior position."

Not that Adesanya is too concerned about what his opponent may have in store.

"I've just been working on myself, just doing me. At the end of the day, I can only be the best me I can be and I know, at my best, I can beat any of these guys - any one of them at all.

"There's probably been about 35 percent of the camp specified around his habits and what he's going to do, but the rest of it is about us as mixed martial artists."

The pair have traded plenty of barbs in the lead-up to their bout. Adesanya responded to Brunson's guarantee that he'd embarrass the "Last Pretender" by dismissing his "skid row bum fights-style, drunken wrestlin' bootleg-Chuck Norris technique".

After a press conference in Los Angeles in August, Adesanya filmed himself taunting Brunson from across a bar, before telling him he could show up to the fight "drunk as f**k and still whoop your ass".

"If you put a silhouette over us, and you see his style of fighting and my style, I can guarantee you people's visuals would be drawn more to mine, because mine is beautiful.

"This is mixed martial arts. This is artistry.

"You just can't compare. It's not even apples and oranges, it's like apple and the f**king core of an apple.

"You can plant that and become a seed, but he's not fertilising well.

"I want to whoop this guy's ass. I want to f**k him up badly."

Fortified by an ever-improving ground game, Adesanya foresees another demoralising defeat for his adversary this weekend.

"I have three [predictions] - first round KO, second round KO or I snatch his neck," he said. "I keep seeing myself snatching his neck.

"He has no chance. This is my fight, it's my fight to lose."

Should that play out as planned and Whittaker overcomes Kelvin Gastellum, he has no doubts as to what lies next on the menu.

"I get the belt, we do it right there at Spark Arena. I'll sell that b*tch out.