Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker recently admitted his two-time opponent, current 185-pound king Israel Adesanya, is a “terrible matchup” for him.
“The Last Stylebender” is the man responsible for Whittaker taking the belt by knockout in 2019. “The Reaper” went on a three-fight win streak before challenging Adesanya for his old belt earlier this year. However, Adesanya raised his hand again and unanimously beat Whittaker in a hard-fought bout at UFC 271.
A few weeks ago, Whittaker placed in the Victory Column again. He fought during the first event of the promotion in France and made a decision over top-ranked middleweight Marvin Vettori.
All in all, Whittaker is 12-2 in the UFC’s 185-pound division, with his only two losses coming from The Last Stylebender. And MMA analyst and fighter Anthony Smith has gone as far as to say that Whittaker is the most all-round fighter in the division.
“I don’t disagree,” Smith said during an episode of the Believe You Me podcast (h/t Sportskeeda.com). “I think that’s Izzy [Israel Adesanya’s] the more effective fighter between those two… The connection, the reach, the defensive nature of Izzy’s counter-attacking style… Robert always kind of struggled with tall, lanky guys [fighters]… In this fight, Izzy is more effective, [but] The more technical, the more versatile, the guy who has more weapons and more tools [is] one hundred percent, without a doubt, Robert Whittaker is… he is [Adesanya’s] very good at what he does [but] Robert is very good at many different things.”
Whittaker has every intention of becoming the UFC champion again, and on the MMA on Sirius XM Show replied to The Reaper about Smith’s comments. In short, Whittaker appreciated the praise from “Lionheart” and also admitted that Adesanya caused him a lot of trouble in the Octagon.
I agree 100 percent,” said Whittaker (h/t MMA Mania). “Let me just thank Anthony Smith because that’s a huge support. I really appreciate that.
“Absolutely,” he continued. “I agree 100 percent. That’s why I often mention that I get the mic, that’s why I’m the most dangerous middleweight in the world for that reason [laughs]. Smith said it best, he’s a terrible opponent for me and I hate this fight. It’s annoying, a super annoying fight, but I genuinely believe I’m the best middleweight in the world.”
Ahead of his fight with Vettori in August, Whittaker hinted that a move up to 205lbs could be on the cards for him. Whittaker told Submission Radio that light heavyweight would allow him to compete at his “more natural weight” compared to middleweight.
However, he told the outlet he didn’t know if he wanted to “manage” the size disadvantage he would face fighting taller men north of 185 pounds. He hasn’t committed to an eventual move but said he would take the time to prepare his body for the new division if he were to do so in the future.