Robert Whittaker Believes Israel Adesanya’s Stand-Up Game Looked Superior Versus Fighters Who “Didn’t Have Greatest Striking Skills”
Robert Whittaker was scheduled to defend the UFC Middleweight title against Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC 234, on February 8, 2019. Unfortunately, less than 24 hours before the fight, Whittaker pulled out of the match due to hernia issue. “The Reaper” was transferred to the hospital, where he underwent surgery to repair a twisted and a collapsed bowel.
Israel Adesanya fought on the same card and outpointed Anderson Silva to secure a unanimous decision win.
Despite his match against Whittaker was called off, Kelvin Gastelum appeared in Rod Laver Arena with a new UFC belt on his shoulder, claiming he is “the true Middleweight champion”.
Gastelum later trolled Adesanya in the episode of Ariel Helwani’s MMA show, saying “The Last Stylebender” didn’t deserve a title shot since he couldn’t finish a 43-year-old “Spider”.
UFC decided to book the Interim 185-pound title match between Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya for UFC 236 PPV (pay-per-view) event, which will go down on April 13, 2019 (location to be determined).
Breaking: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Israel Adesanya for the UFC's interim middleweight title headed to UFC 236 on April 13. https://t.co/Qa24aGzyPa
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) February 19, 2019
Robert Whittaker targets a fight against the winner of Israel Adesanya Vs Kelvin Gastelum when he recovers. (h/t MMAFighting)
“I’m looking to fight the winner of that,” Whittaker said on his Grange TV podcast. “I guess, in terms of timelines and dates, it will be a month – two or three months after that. Three months maximum, one month minimum. That’s the kind of timeline I’m looking for.”
It seems Robert Whittaker thinks giving the Interim title shot to the #4 and #5 in the official UFC Middleweight rankings is unfair towards the fighters sitting above.
“When you look at the poster it says Gastelum vs Adesanya, four versus five, but one, two, three aren’t in the equation,” Whittaker said. “Gastelum’s a great fight for [Adesanya] to fight. I would’ve liked to see him fight Romero or Rockhold or Weidman. I think they’d give him a lot of trouble.”
Israel Adesanya has a perfect MMA score of 5-0, with 4 finishes. But Robert Whittaker claims Israel Adesanya’s striking is not “as good as “The Last Stylebender” thinks it is” and adds the Nigerian-born New Zealander looked great against fighters whose striking skills were not the greatest.
“I think that Adesanya isn’t as good as he thinks he is,” Whittaker said. “I think he’s very good – very, very good – and I have a lot of respect for his skillset, 100 percent. He’s a dangerous guy. But I don’t think the pedestal that he’s on is as high as everyone else thinks it is, as he thinks it is. I think his fight with Anderson Silva was the first time his stand-up capabilities were put to the test with someone with similar stand-up capabilities. . .
“I don’t think Adesanya’s striking is as good as he believes. It is. It’s very good. I’m not saying his striking is bad, it’s very, very good – but I just don’t think it’s as good as he thinks it is. The times Adesanya’s looked very good is against people that don’t have the greatest striking.”
Israel Adesanya is a fantastic kickboxer, a former Glory Middleweight champion with a tremendous score of 81-5-1, but Robert Whittaker points out to a big difference between Octagon and ring. “The Reaper” compares Adesanya to Yoel Romero.
“We’re not kickboxing,” Whittaker argued. “The difference in striking in the Octagon as opposed to the ring is night and day. Comparing the two isn’t applicable. Yes, he can take a lot of the skillsets over and they’re very transferable, but it’s not the same. It’s not the same.
“Having very high technical skills in striking, isn’t the same as being a very dangerous striker. If you were to look at Romero, he is not technically great at stand-up. He’s not known for his technical grace with his standup, [but] most of his wins have been knockouts. He hits very hard. He hits like a truck. He’s a dangerous striker. He would have to be one of the most dangerous strikers in the world. Most of his wins come by knockout standing up – punches, flying knees – he’s a very, very dangerous striker but you can’t say he’s super technical, because he’s not.”
“Adesanya is dangerous and technical, but he’s not the same as Romero. He’s not super, super dangerous.”
Share your thoughts who should Whittaker fight next?