Israel Adesanya expects future rematch with Robert Whittaker: 'I'll see him again, definitely'

MELBOURNE, Australia – The MMA world is hailing its latest superstar after Israel Adesanya dethroned Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 to capture the middleweight title.

But while the super-confident Kiwi won’t go as far as anointing himself the UFC’s biggest star, he said if the cap fits, he’s quite happy to wear it.

“I can’t say that about myself. It’s subjective,” he said in response to that very question at the post-fight news conference at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. “You might not like me to think I am. But yeah, if you want to say that, go ahead.”

Adesanya’s performance saw him assess Whittaker’s timing during the opening round before he eventually connected big right at the end of the first five minutes. While Whittaker (20-5 MMA, 11-3 UFC) was saved by the buzzer, Adesanya (18-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) had gauged the champion’s cadence and used that timing to finish his man mid-way through the second round.

The finish may have been a decisive one, but Adesanya admitted that he fully expects to face Whittaker in a world title rematch not too far down the line.

“I told him in the octagon I’d see him again,” he said before explaining he shared a motivational slogan he had used throughout fight camp to help pick up his fallen opponent at the end of the contest.

“I told him, ‘I’m greater than I think I am, and so are you,’” he said. “And I said I’ll see him again, definitely. He’ll definitely work his way up, and he said, ‘Probably in two fights, I’ll see you again.’”

Based on that assessment, plus the seemingly imminent clash with Brazilian powerhouse Paulo Costa, it seems any rematch between the Kiwi and the Australian may have to wait until the middle of next year, at the earliest. But Adesanya also took time to put some shine on another middleweight contender who has yet to receive the plaudits some of his other rivals have enjoyed over recent months and years.

“Jared Cannonier, I like that guy,” Adesanya said. “He’s a cool dude. I like his style. I like the fact that he came down from heavyweight to light heavyweight, now middleweight. I’m impressed with what he’s doing. He still has another fight probably (before he’s in line for a title shot). It all depends on who he fights next. One or two fights. I like challenges like that.”

Ultimately, though, Adesanya said he wants to be an active champion, and one who could eventually look to challenge the likes of Anderson Silva and the great Demetrious Johnson for successful title defenses in the UFC.

“It’s about taking names, about taking out the greats of this game,” he said. “So when it’s all said and done, it’s not about, ‘He won that belt.’ No. (It’s about), ‘He beat the (expletive) out of everyone that they put in front of him’.”

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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