Fresh off his win over Marvin Vettori, it’s expected that UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will take on former titleholder – and the man he won his belt from – Robert Whittaker next.
After that unanimous decision victory at UFC 263, Adesanya made it clear that he wants to face Whittaker for a second time during his post-fight interview, stoking the flames for a rematch between these rivals from New Zealand and Australia.
While Adesanya’s tongue is as sharp as his striking on the cage, Whittaker is less known for his trash talking abilities.
However, that hasn’t stopped Whittaker from speaking out against Adesanya and giving his honest views on his expected next opponent.
“Watching that fight against Vettori, you can see Adesanya is not untouchable,” Whittaker told the Daily Telegraph. “It reinforced the fact that he’s very human. Very touchable. I actually thought his performance was average.
“Not average in the context of being bad but he never did anything more than what he had to do. He didn’t do anything flashy. He didn’t do anything more than necessary, which is a good approach, but it certainly doesn’t put you in the realm of Gods.
“He’s definitely not a God. He’s a very good fighter, sure but he’s not as good as he thinks he is.”
These comments didn’t pass Adesanya by unnoticed and “The Last Stylebender” took to social media for his stinging riposte.
“If I’m ‘not as good as I think I am’ then what does that make you?”, Adesanya questioned on one of the images he posted online.
Later, talking about the point made about Adesanya not being “a god” according to Whittaker, the Nigerian-born Kiwi had this to say: “I might not be a god to you, but I baptised you.”
Whittaker hasn’t responded online as yet, but he has always been a competitor who lets his fighting do his talking for him. Regardless, this doesn’t hurt in building up a rematch in this ever-growing rivalry.
Since his defeat to Adesanya in 2019, “The Reaper” has rebounded with three victories in a row and defeated Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum en route to title contention once again.