Robert Whittaker says Israel Adesanya rematch isn’t urgent, but will likely happen


ABU DHABI – Right now, Robert Whittaker isn’t interested in mapping out his next move.

Following his UFC 254 unanimous decision win over Jared Cannonier on Saturday, Whittaker’s focus turned to two things: Christmas and the expected birth of a newborn child. Until he meets his child, he won’t overindulge in the impending fight preparation.

“I’ve got Christmas and the newborn in January,” Whittaker said. “I don’t want to be thinking about a fight in the leadup to my newborn. With all my kids, I’ve been thinking about my fights. I’ve had my mind elsewhere. I felt like I wasn’t in the moment. I refuse to do that for this one.”

Whittaker (22-5 MMA, 13-3 UFC) gave an estimated March or April timeline for his return. As for an opponent, Whittaker was asked about a rematch with UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya – a fight UFC president Dana White voiced interest in moments prior.

“He’s a tough fight, man,” Whittaker said. “I’m stoked to fight him. He’s a hard fight. He’s so good and he only looked better in his last fight – and the fact he beat me once already. But I feel like I’ve got a couple of tricks I can roll out. I feel like I can play it differently this time. Honestly, I know he’s trying to do everything else, and good on him to do that. I’m not thinking about him. Maybe me and him shouldn’t think about it just for a little bit. He can go up to light heavy(weight) or heavyweight. Whatever he wants to do, it doesn’t bother me. My plans are Christmas, my baby, and then, hopefully, our timelines line up then.”

Although an Adesanya (20-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) rematch isn’t an urgent matter for Whittaker, it’s something he thinks will happen sooner or later.

“I do want to fight him one day – one day,” Whittaker said. “Whether it’s in my career or in the parking lot as two old fellas one day. I feel like our paths will cross again. As a warrior, it’s something I need to do. But I’m not worried about who I fight next. My whole mentality with this game is: ‘You line them up. I knock them down.’ I’m pretty good at that.”

At UFC 243 in October 2019, Adesanya defeated Whittaker by second-round TKO to claim the promotion’s 185-pound title.

UFC 254 took place Saturday at Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The main card streamed on pay-per-view after prelims on ESPN 2/ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass.

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