Robert Whittaker believes the third time will be the charm should he get another crack at Israel Adesanya’s middleweight title.
It has been nearly a decade since ‘The Reaper’ suffered defeat at the hands of a man not named Israel Adesanya. Despite that statistic, Whittaker is determined to score a third fight with ‘The Last Stylebender’ before hanging up his gloves for good.
“I really want to fight Izzy again,” Whittaker told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “Him specifically. I want to beat him for the title. I didn’t realize how much I wanted to beat him in particular until it could have gone another way. Until there was the possibility that I could have been fighting [Alex] Pereira for the belt.”
Meeting for the first time at UFC 243 in 2019, Robert Whittaker surrendered his UFC middleweight championship to the ‘Stylebender’ via a second-round knockout. ‘The Reaper’ fared much better in their UFC 271 rematch, but still left empty-handed following a unanimous decision in favor of Adesanya.
“I want to fight Israel. I’m going to beat Izzy the next time we come across,” Whittaker continued. “It’s funny how important that stood out to me. So I guess I’m in a position right now where either they’re happy to have me have that rematch with him, and I understand three attempts. I’ve seen things like, ‘Rob’s just trying to keep fighting him. Rob just give it up. Blah, blah, blah.’
“You see this stuff and it’s like, ‘Yeah, but what do you want me to do?’ I can’t quit. I’m in this game and he’s got the belt. I want to win. I want to take that from him. I’m going to beat him. Izzy fought Pereira four times over the course of his career. I’m only going to need to fight Izzy three times because I will beat him next time. I’m 100% confident I will beat him next time.”
Robert Whittaker is "100 percent confident" that he will beat Israel Adesanya in a third fight 👀 #TheMMAHour— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) April 17, 2023
"Izzy fought [Alex] Pereira four times over the course of his career. I’m only going to need to fight Izzy three times."
▶️ https://t.co/M2yvTroPn4 pic.twitter.com/5rgIP8hcBa
Robert Whittaker Rules Out Potential Fights with Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev
There is the possibility that Robert Whittaker will be required to go out and get one more win before the promotion feels comfortable giving him a third fight with Israel Adesanya.
Who that potential matchup could be against is anyone’s guess, but there are a couple of names we can rule out with the first being Paulo Costa. Expected to square off with Whittaker at UFC 284 in February, ‘The Eraser’ withdrew citing issues with his UFC contract. Since then, Costa has re-signed with the promotion and will reportedly make upwards of $1 million per fight going forward. Ready to resume his combat sports career, it’s safe to assume that it won’t be against Whittaker.
“Costa upset me. I’m not fighting him because this is the second time I was supposed to fight him and he pulled out,” Whittaker said. “And it just mucks everything up. I have to do a whole camp. I make expenses and costs and everything like that to get to a point where he pulls away. This is the second time he’s done it. I want a fight that’s going to happen. I want a sure thing.”
Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa were also scheduled to scrap in April 2021, but ‘The Eraser’ withdrew due to an illness. Clearly, ‘The Reaper’ isn’t interested in finding out if a third booking will be the charm between the two top ten contenders.
Whittaker has also ruled out a potential meeting with undefeated Chechen monster Khamzat Chimaev.
“Chimaev, he’s not in the division’s rankings. I’m not a huge fan of guys just sliding in and fighting wherever they want. It’s a different place. The rankings are there for a reason. I like fighting top five guys. That’s just where I’m at. I like fighting top five guys because they’re the best of the best. They’ve earned and worked their way through the division to get there. It’s so much harder to work your way through a division than to slide in at the top. “If you have one fight or two fights and you get to fight… Like [Alex] Pereira.
“There are a lot of dudes in the top twenty of the middleweight division that’ll give Pereira a hard time. Much more of a hard time than Israel [Adesanya] and that’s the truth. You know that and everyone else knows that. There are some dudes in there that’ll give him a nightmarish run for his money and that isn’t for a title. That’s just about the case for everybody. That’s why I like these guys that are in the top five. They worked their way up, much like I did. Work your way up, and you beat all these contenders. I like that. It’s a system we have and should be respected.”
If it’s not Israel Adesanya, who would you like to see Robert Whittaker’s face in his Octagon return?