At UFC 243, Israel Adesanya used his unique skills to dismantle now-former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. Whittaker has blamed his ego for the loss.
Over the past three years, Whittaker has built himself back up to become a title contender. Adesanya is ready to put him back down.
Adesanya and Whittaker will face off in a rematch for the title at UFC 271 on Feb. 12. The atmosphere should be electric inside the Toyota Center in Houston for a fight years in the making.
Since winning the title back in 2019, Adesanya has defended it three times. Growing as a fighter every step of the way, “The Last Stylebender” believes the outcome will be the same. Speaking with Stake, his sponsor, Adesanya said Whittaker shouldn’t focus on his past fights. He should just focus on the opponent staring him right in the face.
“My prediction is that I am going to f— Whittaker up, again,” Adesanya said. “He can’t stand with me, so I know he will be forced to grapple. Last time he said Kevin Gastelum has given the blueprint on how to beat Adesanya,’ and now he’s saying ‘Jan (Blachowicz) has given the blueprint’…. he needs to write his own blueprint. If he wants to copy someone else’s work, then by all means try, because it went so well last time for him when we fought.
“Whittaker may have learnt from his mistakes from last time for maybe a round or so, but then trust me, he will revert back to those errors. Once he feels what he felt last time, he won’t know where to turn. Also, he didn’t even grapple with me last time, he didn’t really feel me. You can ask any of my previous opponents, they will tell you. So once he feels me in a grapple, then he will get shook again.”
Whittaker made his pro debut in 2009. Winning The Ultimate Fighter in 2012, Whittaker is 14-3 with the UFC. Since losing the title to Adesanya, he has beaten Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum, all via unanimous decision.
A successful kickboxer, Adesanya joined the UFC in 2018. Adesanya is 10-1 since the promotion and has defended the middleweight title against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, and Marvin Vettori. He attempted to fight in the light heavyweight division, but lost when facing then-UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Błachowicz. Now, he is focused on holding down the fort at middleweight.
Adesanya has seen the improvements in Whittaker’s game, and he will be cautious of them. He doesn’t, however, see Whittaker’s progress as an automatic win for the Australian.
“People kept saying what a good guy he is, but trust me he’s not,” Adesanya went on to say. “You don’t see that behind the scenes. And now he’s admitted it was his ego that got the best of him – well I told you so, he should have listened to me! What else can he say?
“He said after the fight that it was the best he’s ever felt, well I do not forget that. If he can get better, he’ll have to bring the best again and I will beat him again.”