As UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker recovers from health issues, the promotion booked Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum for the interim title fight. The Australian fighter said he would take on the eventual winner of this bout and commented on the Kiwi’s overall game.
Adesanya recently outlasted Anderson Silva at UFC 234 en route to his fifth straight win at UFC and to become the top contender in the middleweight division. Whittaker was scheduled to headline the event opposite Gastelum, but he made a last-minute pullout due to an injury.
The Nigerian-born Kiwi has urged the promotion to strip the reigning champion of his belt, citing it was not the first time he withdrew from a title fight. Whittaker has yet to comment on Adesanya’s recent call, but he has some words about the hype surrounding the rising star.
Not Super Dangerous
In case you are living under the rocks, Robert Whittaker was not able to defend his title after sustaining an abdominal hernia hours before the UFC 234 raised its curtains. The jam-packed Rod Laver Arena was ready to cheer for their local hero to no avail as he withdrew from his fight against Kelvin Gastelum.
Replacing them in the main event was the intriguing pair of the legendary Anderson Silva and the top prospect Israel Adesanya. After three rounds of classic exchanges, it was the young talent who emerged victorious, winning all scorecards, to notch the top contender status.
Three days after the pay-per-view event, Whittaker was released from the hospital following the surgery, but will not be back to actions until July or August. During his absence, two of the top five middleweights will tussle for the interim title – Adesanya and Gastelum – and the Australian champ is already setting his sights on fighting the eventual winner for the undisputed title.
“I’m looking to fight the winner of that.”
“In terms of timelines and dates, it will be a month – two or three months after that.”
“One-month minimum, three months maximum. That’s the kind of timeline I’m looking for,” he said about his return, per Sporting News.
“The Reaper” also commented on Adesanya’s game, saying he is not “as good as he thinks he is.”
“I think Adesanya isn’t as good as he thinks he is. I think he’s very good – very, very good – and I have a lot of respect for his skillset, 100 per cent. He’s a dangerous guy. But I don’t think the pedestal that he’s on is as high as everyone else thinks it is, and he thinks it is.”
“I think his fight with Anderson Silva was the first time his stand-up capabilities were put to the test with someone with similar stand-up capabilities.”
He also thinks Yoel Romero is a more dangerous striker compared to him, who is, on the other hand, more technical.
“Having very high technical skills in striking isn’t the same as being a very dangerous striker.”
“If you were to look at Romero, he is not technically great at stand-up. He’s not known for his technical grace – but most of his wins have been by knockout. He would have to be one of the most dangerous strikers in the world. But you can’t say he’s very technical.
“Adesanya is dangerous and technical, but he’s not the same as Romero. He’s not super, super dangerous. I don’t think Adesanya’s striking is as good as he thinks it is – it’s very good, I’m not saying his striking is bad, it’s very, very good – but I just don’t think it’s as good as he thinks it is.
“The times Adesanya’s looked very good is against people that don’t have the greatest striking,” Whittaker claimed.
(Featured Image Source: Instagram/Israel Adesanya and YouTube/MMA Fighting)