In his first official attempt at defending his UFC middleweight crown, Australia’s Robert Whittaker came up short against rival Israel Adesanya at UFC 243 in Melbourne.
It was Whittaker’s first defeat in almost six years and his first as a middleweight.
At 28 years old, Whittaker believes he is far from done at 185 pounds and would like another go at Nigeria-born New Zealander Adesanya again one day.
“Obviously I’m disappointed, but I took the fight to him,” Whittaker said at the post-fight press conference per Sherdog. “Me and him are two of the best strikers in the world, and it was tit for tat, and I got caught.
“It happens. He beat me tonight, but I’m 28. This is my first loss in the division and trust me when I say I’m not going anywhere.”
When you look at the list of opponent Whittaker has faced – and beat – including the likes of Yoel Romero x2 and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in three of his last four outings, it’s understandable why Whittaker has little fear of facing Adesanya for a second time despite succumbing to a second-round TKO defeat on Saturday.
If anything, Whittaker’s biggest battle has been against his own body, which has limited him to just five fights since November 2016.
When healthy, Whittaker is a tough fight for anyone in the middleweight division and “The Reaper” believes there could be a different result if he were to face Adesanya in the Octagon again.
“I’d like to see on another night, let’s go at it again,” Whittaker added. “I think I can do that. And that’s what’s so disappointing, I guess. I feel like I can beat him. I feel like I have the skillset to beat him. But we clashed heads, and I came off second best. I got caught.
“Hats off to him. He’s a great striker and congratulations. But like I said: I’m not going nowhere. I’m still one of the best in the world. I’ve always claimed that title. I’m one of the best in the world. I got the title once.”