Israel Adesanya became the interim middleweight champion after beating Kelvin Gastelum by unanimous decision at UFC 236. Now, the plan is for Adesanya to unify his belt with current champion, Robert Whittaker, potentially in a stadium in Australia.
Although ‘The Last Stylebender’ is undefeated, Whittaker believes it is an easy matchup for him, this after seeing Adesanya get exposed against Gastelum.
“I think this fight forced him to draw a little bit more out of the tank, a little bit more will power, a little bit more heart,” Whittaker told “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show” on ESPN (transcript via MMAJunkie). “You can see in the fight his ups and downs. A little bit more trials, a little bit more obstacles he had to get over. The adversity he had to get through to make sure he lasted to the end of the fight. I thought it was an amazing fight from both guys.
“If you watch the fight you can see the holes that were there from every fight before, they just got exposed bigger. There were holes and there were a lot of things Gastelum exploited, and there were a lot of things Gastelum could’ve exploited but couldn’t because of his makeup, because of his striking style, because of his height, his reach. Gastelum was getting in. Gastelum was landing his left. I’ll get in, I’ll land my right. I’m much faster than Gastelum, I’m a better striker. Israel should be very worried. I’m a very hard fight.”
Why Whittaker believes he could beat Adesanya is simple. Gastelum showed that he is hittable. With that, Whittaker believes his power is enough to put Adesanya away.
“He doesn’t like getting hit and he’s very, very hittable,” Whittaker said. “I hit hard. If he can weather the storm and take my shots and survive five rounds like he did with Gastelum, then congratulations to him, he’ll get the win. But I don’t think he’s going to. I’m a better fighter than Gastelum. I hit harder, I’m faster and I come with a new level of intensity he’s not used to.
“None of (the talk is) going to matter. We’re going to see each other in the octagon and go leather for leather. And if he beats me, he beats me. Good on him. He would’ve earned his place, but I’m going to do everything in my power to make it not happen.”
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This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/15/2019