The current UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya believes that Robert Whittaker is too emotional ahead of their upcoming rematch.
Adesanya (21-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) is projected to rematch Whittaker (23-5 MMA, 14-3 UFC) before the end of the year. “The Last Stylebender” sees Whittaker crumbling under the pressure again after the former champion admitted he got too emotional in the lead up to their first fight.
Adesanya was able to put on a striking masterclass at UFC 243, where he had Whittaker badly hurt at the end of Round 1 before finishing him in Round 2 to start his dominant reign over the middleweight division.
“We’re putting the knuckles back on ol’ Bobby,” Adesanya said on “THE FIGHT with Teddy Atlas.” “One of my guys from my YouTube channel sent me a clip of him calling me a sh*t person just recently. It’s already happening again, except he’s lost his cool. He talked about saying he lost his cool in the last fight. Nah – it’s too late. He’s lost his cool now. In the last fight leading up to it, he was trying to pretend like everything was all right – and you can verbatim find the interviews when I was saying, ‘He’s not handling this well.’
“When he had his suit on, he had his people around him, he’s in his home country and he looked like the prim, proper poster boy for his moment. And I was saying, ‘Man, he’s not himself.’ He’s taking shots at me, he’s making memes about me, and he’s trying to act like I’m the crazy one. Everyone was saying, ‘Oh my God, Robert is so in his head. Look how angry Izzy was getting.’ I was saying, ‘Look – he’s not himself. He can’t handle the moment.’ This is pressure – 57,127 people in that arena that night, and I could see that pressure was on him when we were in the cage. I could feel it. I felt like a cobra, and I could feel that he was just feeling that pressure.”
Ever since losing to Adesanya, Whittaker has been on a roll. He eliminated top-ranked Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum from the title contention picture and cemented himself as the No. 1 contender.
Whittaker was expected to run things back with Adesanya in June, but when he asked for more time, Adesanya opted to stay active and faced Marvin Vettori instead. He cruised past him at UFC 263 for his third title defense.