Robert Whittaker is up next for UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in his next title defense, confirmed UFC president Dana White.
Whittaker was expected to be next in line to fight Adesanya following three straight wins over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, and Kelvin Gastelum, but he had to turn down the title shot against Adesanya at UFC 263 for several reasons. According to Whittaker, the turnaround following the Gastelum fight in April was too soon for him to fight again in June, especially since he needed to quarantine once he got home to Australia. With Whittaker not being able to take the fight for June 12, the UFC instead got Marvin Vettori to fight Adesanya, and the champ defended his title with a unanimous decision victory at UFC 263.
Following the event, White was asked what’s next for the champ, and he confirmed that the promotion is looking to book Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2 again as soon as possible.
“Adesanya, before this fight happened, maybe two or three days ago, we got the word that he wants to fight again in October. It’s like, he hasn’t even fought yet and this kid is already talking about his next fight. I love that, Adesanya has become a very badass champion for us. So we’ll figure out him and Whittaker ASAP,” White said (h/t MMAMania).
When asked if the rematch between the two rivals could occur in New Zealand or Australia, White said that was unlikely to happen, suggesting that this rematch will take place in the United States when it does go down hopefully later this year.
“You’re talking about New Zealand or Australia? I would highly doubt it. That’s like asking if we can go to Canada in October, they’re pretty much in the same boat,” White said.
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