Israel Adesanya has turned himself from a top prospect to a legit title contender in just 12 months at the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Since making his debut early last year, the Nigerian-born Kiwi fighter has collected five straight wins, with huge victories over big names such as Derek Brunson and his latest victim, Anderson Silva.
Following a convincing decision victory over “The Spider” this past weekend, it looks like the road to glory is almost constructed for “The Last Stylebender” as he is set to get the next crack at the middleweight gold.
But with the current champion of the 185-lb class now in the sidelines due to an abdominal hernia, Adesanya’s quest to capture the throne could suffer a huge delay. This is why he is urging the Nevada-based promotion to strip the Australian of his belt and let him and Kelvin Gastelum fight and die for the UFC middleweight strap.
— MMA Noob (@mmanoob_) February 13, 2019
Israel Adesanya rocked the MMA world once again after he outlasted the returning Anderson Silva at UFC 234 last Saturday at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.
The middleweight pair has to fill the void created by Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum, who was slated to headline the promotion’s first pay-per-view event this year. The country’s local hero withdrew from the title bout on just hours notice after an abdominal hernia sent him to the surgery room on the same day.
Despite the rage from some MMA fans, the UFC 234 still left a mark as Adesanya and Silva delivered a three-round classic in the main event, to the delight of the Australian spectators. When the smoke cleared, it was the Kiwi fighter who came out on top as he won all scorecards.
With the win, UFC chief Dana White claimed that the rising star is now the number one contender for the title, but Adesanya doesn’t want to play the waiting game for his title shot.
Adesanya is urging the UFC to strip the Australian of his middleweight belt, citing it was not the first time he pulled out of a title fight. At UFC 221 in February last year, Whittaker was also forced to sit out in his title-retention bid against Luke Rockhold due to an injury.
“I think that (interim title fight) is more likely but I don’t like the interim thing because they throw that everywhere.”
“I’m like, look, strip Rob of the belt because this is not the first time this has happened.”
“Strip Rob of the belt, me and Kelvin fight for it, and Rob’s the number one contender. So he can come see me when he’s ready,” he told a local media outlet in New Zealand.
“I did them a favour — fighting an unranked guy who’s coming off a ban of two years. I just had faith that they would honour our agreement, and I still have faith that they will honour our agreement, so I know I’m fighting for the belt next.”
Whittaker has issued a statement about the UFC 234 fallout, stressing that he needs to focus on his health first as it could be fatal for him if he decided to fight Gastelum. He has also apologised to his challenger and has vowed to put on a good show next time.
“It is what it is. You can’t plan for these things. I’m sorry to Gastelum because he came out here and prepped and I couldn’t give him a show.”
“I want to say a special thank you to my teammates, coaching staff and my friends and family that helped me during the whole period.”
“So for you guys to be behind me and supporting me and sending me your love like that, it means a lot to me. It really does. And it makes it easier for me to try even harder next time, to get in there and to put my soul on bare and put on a good show for you guys.”
As of now, there are still no updates about Whittaker’s future return, but the UFC chief has given him the time to heal, following the surgery.
Will the UFC grant Adesanya’s request to strip Whittaker’s belt? Or creating an interim title makes more sense?
(Featured Image Source: Instagram/Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker)