01 Jan Morning Report: Robert Whittaker willing to chase Israel Adesanya up to light heavyweight if need be
It’s been an interesting few months for the UFC’s middleweight division. In September, champion Israel Adesanya successfully defended his title with a second-round TKO of Paulo Costa. Afterwards, Adesanya called for Jared Cannonier, should Cannonier get past former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 254. Unfortunately, Cannonier did not, losing a decision to Whittaker and potentially setting up a rematch between Adesanya and “The Reaper.”
Talks of that rematch were short-lived, however, as two weeks ago, UFC President Dana White confirmed that Adesanya’s next fight would instead be a light heavyweight title fight with newly crowned champion Jan Blachowicz, leaving Whittaker out in the cold. It was an unfortunate series of events for Whittaker who has won two fights since losing the title to Adesanya and, in normal circumstances would have basically guaranteed himself a rematch. But the man affectionately referred to as “Bobby Knuckles” is willing to adapt to his situation and says he’ll chase Adesanya up to 205 if need be.
“Well, I’ve already earned the right to (a rematch),” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “I’ve already earned that right to fight for a title. That’s what that fight with Jared was. That fight was number one contender. What’s funny was, everyone was telling Jared, like, you win this fight, you get a shot at the title. No one was saying that to me (laughs). That’s what this fight is, and that’s the right I earned. I earned a shot at a title. So, that’s where I’m at.”
“I’ll fight Izzy one way or another. Middleweight, light heavyweight, whatever… Yeah. If he wins, I’ll go up there and fight him. I don’t care.”
Moving up to light heavyweight would be an impressive jump for Whittaker who is not an enormous middleweight. After all, Whittaker began his UFC career as a welterweight and revealed that he usually walks around at 215 pounds and that come fight week at middleweight, he actually doesn’t cut that much weight. If Adesanya does claim the light heavyweight title, and Whittaker chases him up to 205, he says he’d have to adjust to the new weight class and that it could change the fight dramatically.
“It couldn’t be the same fight,” Whittaker said. “It’s hard to say, cause I don’t know how I’m going to move with the heavier weight set. Cause, generally, I like training lighter, I like fighting lighter. I move faster, my cardio’s better. It’s very hard to say, it’s very hard to say. I’ll have to make some adjustments to my body in order to try and get that speed going and that cardio and movement at a heavier weight…
“Everything (changes). So, like, when I get back into the grind and the hustle at the gym and I’m at a heavier weight, I can’t bounce and move like I did in fight week. I just can’t do it. Your body can’t do it. I can’t sustain any sort of bounce on my toes, cause my calves blow out, my legs blow out. I don’t have that sort of speed. And my grappling’s different too, cause I feel restricted. My body’s not moving as freely as it was because there’s more weight, there’s more of me. That’s why you need to adjust to the weight limit, you need to adjust to the division, to get your body in that balance, in that harmony. So, it’s very hard to say how I would do at 205. I think I’d be alright. I could always just do what I do now and just go in a bit lighter. So, who knows?”
Adesanya has made similar comments about shifting weight classes, but has come down decidedly in favor of not adding any size and retaining his speed and agility. As such, Adesanya has stated that he intends to continue being the middleweight champion even after winning a second title, meaning Whittaker doesn’t need to chase him up to 205, he just has to wait for Adesanya to finish his business up there. Ultimately, everything comes down to the champion’s timeline.
“I guess the ball is in his court,” Whittaker said. “He’s the champ, he beat me last time. So, I’m hustling for a rematch like a salty kid. But yeah, I don’t mind. It is what it is. Shouldn’t have lost the first time. But I’m excited for… I’m not excited, cause fighting’s never really fun, it’s kind of stressful, but I look forward to that rematch, cause as a fighter, as an athlete, I want to try and get that one back. You know, I have that thing, that chip here that wants to run that back. But he’s looking really good, man, he’s looking really, really good. I think that will be a ridiculously hard fight. Yeah, let’s see.”
Of course, that timeline also has to work for Whittaker too and currently his one requirement is that he not fight for a few months. Whittaker is expecting another child soon and wants to take time off to spend with his family and thus is targeting a return spring of next year. So long as that can happen, Whittaker is fine to battle Adesanya any way the UFC sees fit.
“I’ll fight Izzy and and Jan at the same time, after March. I don’t care. I just want to enjoy why I fight.”
Results. Three win contracts with Natan Levy earning high praise at the Contender Series.
Rematch. Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier rematch set for UFC 257.
Return. Paul Felder explains his decision to step in on short-notice against Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Vegas 14.
Retirement. Robert Whittaker discusses Anderson Silva’s final UFC fight, own retirement plans.
Resurgence. Andrei Arlovski credits emphasis on game plans for resurgence: ‘I’m like Nike, ‘Just Do It’’.
Between the Links.
Reaction to McGregor-Poirier 2.
Bellator 252 Media Day.
Dana announcing the Contender Series contracts last night.
Buffer tells the time he got into a fight with Frank Trigg.
The Bash. Interviews with Roberto Soldic, Pedro Carvalho, and Rhys McKee.
UFC Unfiltered. Interviews with Jack Hermansson and Brendan Allen.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
The first time I came face to face with Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier. Las Vegas Nevada, August 2014. I was only beginning to blow up and this was a big one! I rocked renowned Dublin Tailor Louis Copeland on the day. Midnight blue pinstripe. I paired the outfit with me grandas burgundy shoes, which I done an amazing job polishing on my Aer Lingus flight over. Zoom in, have a whiff. This same day I also signed a new contract with the UFC, under Lorenzo Fertitta. Lorenzo brought me into his office, myself and my manager Audie Attar, and placed a contract down in front of me with numbers I’d never seen before in my life! I looked over at Audie like, “you won’t be needed on this one mate” We both knew but play it cool we are still in the office hahaha! Wild! The first of our dealings together on some of the largest purse contracts in the history of combat fighting. Incredible! The moment was captured on one of the episodes of my 6 part series, which I had done for RTE. A real turning point in my career, both financially and professionally. The episode was titled “The Suite Life” as I was rocking around the Red Rock casino in absolute shock and awe. Trying to grasp what the fuck was actually going on Hahahaha! What a wild ride this has been. I am very grateful to be about to return and get to do what I love again. I look forward to the fresh test Dustin will bring since our first bout, while also showcasing my own incredibly deep cache of weaponry. Whatever tool is needed on the night will be pulled from the duffel. I am also really excited about aiding Dustins charity “The Good Fight Foundation”, which through the donation, will build a gym/premise for disadvantaged youth in his childhood hometown. I truly love this, and pledge to match the donation on a premise in my own childhood hometown! Both spots with an ode to the upcoming bout. Excellent stuff! See you guys soon.
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) November 10, 2020
Looks like Dustin and Tony are the ones holding up contracts. I’m ready to sign when you are @thenotoriousmma @magllc @paradigmsports
— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) November 10, 2020
Glad We Got Some Answers. Now Where You At @tonyfergusonxt ? #CSO RT @MMAFighting: Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 2 officially booked for UFC 257 (@DamonMartin) https://t.co/7z3OgmkoQ5 pic.twitter.com/AVsoZ14bWD
— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) November 10, 2020
I wanna see @MikeChandlerMMA win All of his fights … except ours … that’s the honest truth
— Eddie Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) November 11, 2020
Gotta feel like this is just a way to take the shine off Conor.
— Ali Abdelaziz (@AliAbdelaziz00) November 10, 2020
Better safe than sorry.
@felderpaul asked me to corner him Saturday, I snap called. After consideration I decided I couldn’t. I trained on Friday with a person who tested positive for covid the next day. I feel fine, but dk if Im carrying it. But Im still doing my work from the sidelines! pic.twitter.com/iN8GZLvxyU
— Jared Gordon (@JFlashGordonMMA) November 10, 2020
I should of risked going @felderpaul pic.twitter.com/KmdIbOhChs
— Jared Gordon (@JFlashGordonMMA) November 11, 2020
The fight poster.
POSTER OFFICIAL. #UFCVegas14 pic.twitter.com/WZJNcjIP8z
— UFC (@ufc) November 10, 2020
Benson Henderson (28-9) vs. Jason Jackson (12-4); Bellator 253, Nov. 19.
Conor McGregor (22-4) vs. Dustin Poirier (26-6); UFC 257, Jan. 23.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
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