Even if Robert Whittaker wanted to, he would have been unable to compete against Israel Adesanya in June.
Whittaker is coming off an impressive unanimous decision victory over Kelvin Gastelum earlier this month to all but further cement himself as the next in line for a title shot.
However, many observers were shocked to learn that Adesanya would instead defend his title in a rematch against someone else — Marvin Vettori in the UFC 263 headliner taking place June 12.
Whittaker Dealing With Injuries, Quarantine
Whittaker was offered the fight — but having only just competed, it would have been impossible for him to get ready for a fight with Adesanya less than two months later with the injuries he sustained as well as the mandatory quarantine he has to go through.
That is why the former champion believes Adesanya asked for a June date on purpose.
“I found out about the title shot directly after my fight, and they said, you know, fight in June, Adesanya, blah, blah, blah. And I had just come off a hard five-round fight, I had some injuries I had to deal with,” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “My hands were busted, my shin was busted. And I have to go home, and then I have two weeks of quarantine. And yeah, it just wasn’t possible. They probably had a feeling that was a decision I would come to. I can’t help but feel this was a little ploy on Adesanya’s camp’s behalf as well as more than anything else really. But yeah, it just wasn’t possible.“Israel wanted to fight at that date. That’s fine. I physically cannot make that date. My injuries won’t heal in time. I won’t get out of quarantine. I won’t have a camp in time. And it’s a title fight, it’s not something you can rush. So, I physically cannot make that date. He really wants to fight that date? Vettori, jump in, have a go, mate. You know what I mean? And then I’ll just fight the winner later on in the year. I’m cool just chilling and waiting. I’ll train with that date in mind, and yeah, let’s see.”
As for who he is leaning towards?
“If I was a betting man, probably Adesanya,” he added. “You have to be. He’s the favorite for a reason.”
You can watch the full interview below: