Heading into the fight, Adesanya was an overwhelming favorite but he found out quickly in the opening round that the 43-year old Silva still had some fight left in him.
Adesanya took each of the three rounds, but Silva looked risky in his return to the Octagon after a two-year absence.
And with a 16-0 MMA record, including five wins in the UFC in 12 months, Adesanya could end up being the best by the end of 2019.
All three judges awarded the three-round fight to Adesanya: 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
"If I'm playing basketball to play against Michael Jordan, this is it for me", Adesanya said after facing one of his idols in Silva. Insane week. I showed up to work, a lot of people didn't.
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"You know the answer to that".
There was mixed fortunes for Australians Jim Crute and Nadia Kassem, each of who was making their second UFC appearance after a first-up win.
Whittaker's opponent Kelvin Gastelum arrived to the event with a new UFC belt over his shoulder, presumably belonging to his friend, flyweight champion Henry Cejudo who was on hand for the event and declared himself the new champion, referring to amateur wrestling rules where an opponent forfeits if they do not show up after weighing in. I don't care. Kelvin or Rob, whoever it is I don't care. "We'll see how the timing plays. but I'd literally come to Australia every weekend if I could".
Unlike in Whittaker's last supposed title defense, there were no problems at the weigh-in as the scale totaled 185 pounds for Whittaker compared to 184 for Gastelum. "They think he's had it for a while and it's been popping in and out", White said of Whittaker. And although the Brazilian fought back with a couple of punches to Adesanya's chin, the Kiwi won the first round.
Immediately after the fight ended, Silva was overheard saying to Adesanya: "I pass the baton to you". This is my life. "It was a fun fight to watch with two guys who are incredibly talented", UFC President Dana White said at Saturday's post-fight press conference.
"I try to fight in Curitiba, my city".