Robert Whittaker sees a clear path to victory against Israel Adesanya and it is not by using his wrestling as some would expect.
At UFC 243, the UFC middleweight champion will return to the Octagon for the first time since June of 2018. He will make his return against the interim champ in Adesanya. It is a highly anticipated fight between an Australian and a Kiwi in Adesanya, and it’s being billed as the biggest fight in Oceanic history.
For Whittaker, to fight back home in Australia will be amazing, especially after having to pull out at UFC 234, when the UFC was last scheduled to visit his home country.
“Yeah, I am stoked. The way the last fight played out, I was very disappointed, I’m sure a lot of fans were, but I was the most. To be able to fight in Australia again but on a grander scale, a bigger arena and more hype behind it I can’t wait,” Whittaker told BJPENN.com. “I look forward to heading to Melbourne and putting on a show. The Melbourne crowd deserves it.”
Whittaker says he is excited to be a part of this event, as it is expected to be the most attended UFC event in history. Despite the scale of the card, he says it will just be another fight.
Although he says it is just another fight, it will be a tough test. Israel Adesanya is 17-0 and has a ton of hype behind him. He has a kickboxing background, yet Robert Whittaker believes the Kiwi’s striking defense is the biggest hole in his game. He learned that from watching Adesanya’s recent war with Kelvin Gastelum.
“It was a crazy fight. It was a crazy fight to watch. The scales went both ways. Gastelum looked like he was winning then he fell off a cliff,” he explained. “Adesanya brought it back, it was a great fight. I’m glad they beat each other up. I saw a lot of holes to exploit in Adesanya. I look forward to trying to do that.”
One of those holes is Adesanya’s striking defense. Whittaker points to how frequently Gastelum was able to his Adesanya as proof of this.
“No, I don’t think it was the wrestling. I think it was the fact that Gastelum could put hands on him. I think people underestimate Adesanya’s wrestling,” Robert Whittaker explained. “Adesanya’s wrestling, he is a big guy, long arms, and he wrestles and trains in it a lot. I don’t underestimate that. But, what I took from the fight was Gastelum was able to close that gap and land shots on his chin. I am much quicker than Gastelum, taller than Gastelum, have longer arms than Gastelum. If Gastelum can hit him, I can hit him.”
Whittaker knows Adesanya has very good striking, but believes he is just as good. He also points out to the fact that the interim champ couldn’t finish the likes of Anderson Silva and Kelvin Gastelum. The champ says he is harder to put away and learned that from 50-minutes of battle with Yoel Romero; a man many consider the toughest fighter in the middleweight division.
The champion has brought in several local kickboxers for his training camp and feels very prepared for the fight. He also says ring rust won’t be a factor.
“I’m not worried about it at all. In my off-season, as soon as I was able to, I competed in jiu-jitsu, I competed in wrestling. I incorporated more sparring in this camp,” he said. “I ran this rodeo before, I’ve been here before, I’ve done this. This is what I was meant to do. This is what I was born to do, so I’m not worried about ring rust.”
Robert Whittaker is extremely confident he will win this fight. He knows some people may have forgotten how good he is after the time off, but he believes he will remind everyone on Saturday as he says he will be able to finish Adesanya.
“I definitely believe this is a fight I can finish and I have 25-minutes to go for it. That is all I am going to do,” he said.
“I will be able to close the gap. I’m faster, hit hard and I don’t go away,” he added.
For now, Robert Whittaker is making his final preparations for the fight and expects to hear ‘And Still’ come Saturday.
Who do you think will win the fight between Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya?
Learn how to watch the card here.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/30/2019.