Robert Whittaker finds it rather silly that Israel Adesanya could bag himself yet another immediate rematch after dropping the middleweight title for the second time in less than a year.
UFC 293 saw ‘The Last Stylebender’ once again surrender the 185-pound crown after essentially shutting down for his full 25-minute affair with outspoken middleweight contender Sean Strickland. After guaranteeing a spectacular finish for weeks, Adesanya looked absolutely flat in his performance, leading to a lopsided 49-46 decision in favorite of Strickland.
Following the fight, Dana White ruffled some feathers when he suggested that an immediate rematch was in order.
Appearing on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Robert Whittaker suggested the idea of Adesanya getting yet another immediate rematch was silly, especially when you take into account that the ‘Stylebender’ had already received an immediate rematch in 2023 after losing the belt to his longtime foe, Alex Pereira, late last year.
“Let’s take fair out of the equation. Life isn’t fair, but I think it’s silly if Izzy gets an immediate rematch because this isn’t his first loss as champion, Whittaker said. “Technically, he didn’t defend the belt again. He lost to Pereira, got the belt back, and then lost it again. You have to ask, is the idea just to keep letting him have rematches when he loses? Relax. That’s the fight game.
“It puts the UFC in a tricky position because Izzy is one of their premiere guys. One of the poster boys, but yeah. I think he’s got some work to do.”
Robert Whittaker calls it "silly" if Israel Adesanya gets an immediate rematch after UFC 293 🏆 #TheMMAHour
"Technically he didn’t defend the belt again… You have to ask, is the idea just to keep letting him have rematches if he loses?”
— MMA Fighting (@MMAFighting) September 13, 2023
Dana White has since walked back his rematch comments, claiming that the MMA media simply twisted his words around. The UFC CEO did however acknowledge that Adesanya running it back with Strickland was a distinct possibility.
Meanwhile, the middleweight division is loaded with talent near the top of the weight class waiting for their time to shine. Dricus Du Plessis currently sits at the No. 1 ranked contender in the division, but after declining a relatively short-notice fight with Adesanya at UFC 293, he doesn’t appear to be on Dana White’s good side.
Another possibility is Jared Cannonier who is coming off a dominant win over Marvin Vettori and actually holds a win over the new middleweight champ.
Then you have the massive middleweight matchup between Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev scheduled to take place at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi next month.
With so many options at the top of the division, who would you like to see Sean Strickland defend his title against first?
You can watch Robert Whittaker’s full interview below: