Robert Whittaker isn’t done chasing down Israel Adesanya yet.
“The Reaper” lost in a middleweight championship rematch to Adesanya at UFC 271 last February but bounced back strongly at UFC Paris with a lopsided unanimous decision win over top contender Marvin Vettori. It was the 13th win in his last 15 fights for Whittaker – currently No. 2 at 185lbs in MMA Fighting’s global rankings – whose only losses during that stretch were to ‘The Last Stylebender’.
After convincingly asserting his place as the No. 1 contender, Whittaker made it clear that his goal is still to become the UFC champion again.
“I’m chasing that title shot,” Whittaker said on a recent episode of The MMA lesson. “That’s what I do and I always will because that’s the only upward direction. I’m a fan of progress, I just want to move forward.
“I want to move up. And whoever has the ‘C’ above me, whoever is above me in the rankings, is of course my next target.”
Whittaker raised eyebrows in his post-fight speech at UFC Paris when he declared himself the “most dangerous man” at middleweight, a statement that needed clarification given his two losses to Adesanya. He explained further The MMA lesson that he usually deals more damage to his opponents than Adesanya, a comment that’s particularly clear given the criticism Adesanya has received in recent months for its relatively drama-free championship defense.
“I’m the most dangerous man in the division,” Whittaker said. “Izzy, he’s the champion of the division, he beat me in the last fight too. He’s a great fighter. But I’m the most dangerous man. I can beat anyone in the division. In that last fight against Israel, I would have taken everything from him by a hair’s breadth. Just the fights I’ve been in and the opponents I’ve had, I’m not just beating them. I whip her. There is a difference.
“I hurt these guys and that makes me so dangerous. That’s because I don’t come to battle just to win, I come to break my opponents. And I’m not a big talker or anything, but as far as the mentality goes, that’s what I do when I go in there. I don’t go in expecting to come out. … So I have a lot of injuries when I leave the octagon because I inflicted them on myself. Throwing too many kicks or throwing too many punches with reckless abandon, that’s just the way it is.”
Regarding the changing perception surrounding Adesanya, Whittaker attributes it more to the opponents Adesanya fought than to changes in the champion’s strategy.
“Israel is fighting just as it has always fought,” Whittaker said. “He’s a beautiful defensive striker who uses his physical attributes perfectly in his fighting style. The only difference now is that he’s fighting much higher quality types, and they’re harder to stop, harder to walk away from, a little bit harder. He always fought like that. He always fought defensively, sure. And he gets the W. I think that’s what you want.”
Whittaker has teased about moving up to a different weight class after starting his UFC career at 170 pounds, and he believes that’s the division he will one day retire to if he ever moves up to 205 to take pounds. Right now, he’s looking ahead to Adesanya’s next title defense against Alex Pereira, which comes at UFC 281 on November 12.
Whoever wins, Whittaker is confident he’s at the forefront of any discussion about championship contenders.
“I know I still have a chance against Izzy if that is it, or if he gets dethroned I definitely have another shot at gold,” Whittaker said. “I think getting that third fight with Israel, or whoever it is, is going to be a pivotal point.”
“Definitive [there will be a third fight with Adesanya,]He added. “It would be silly not to because I’m just running through everyone else. Especially the way the second fight ended, I would have been the closest since he got the title to giving it back to him.” to decrease.”