Israel Adesanya is already known for his abilities on the mic and in the cage. But Robert Whittaker’s already fired off some interesting warning shots at “The Last Style Bender”, now that the two are going to scrap.
Adesanya secured the interim middleweight title at UFC 236, and a bout with Whittaker later this year, by earning a decision win over Kelvin Gastelum. The fight was a thrilling, violent affair that saw both men land some punishing shots. But, Adesanya sealed the deal with a dominant round five, in which he knocked Gastelum down several times.
Well, Whittaker appeared on the latest edition of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. Of course, the middleweight champ was asked about Saturday’s contest and his upcoming bout with the interim champ. Whittaker acknowledged that the UFC 236 fight was a barn burner, but while discussing how he’ll do against Adesanya. “Bobby Knuckles” said this (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“If you watch the fight you can see the holes that were there from every fight before, they just got exposed bigger. There were holes and there were a lot of things Gastelum exploited, and there were a lot of things Gastelum could’ve exploited but couldn’t because of his makeup, because of his striking style, because of his height, his reach. Gastelum was getting in. Gastelum was landing his left. I’ll get in, I’ll land my right. I’m much faster than Gastelum, I’m a better striker. Israel should be very worried. I’m a very hard fight.”
“…He doesn’t like getting hit and he’s very, very hittable,” Whittaker said. “I hit hard. If he can weather the storm and take my shots and survive five rounds like he did with Gastelum, then congratulations to him, he’ll get the win. But I don’t think he’s going to. I’m a better fighter than Gastelum. I hit harder, I’m faster and I come with a new level of intensity he’s not used to.”
Gastelum boosters might not agree with what Whittaker’s saying here. As the former TUF winner has clearly demonstrated that his left is a one-and-done weapon. Also, he was able to land 91 significant strikes on a fighter who is already, widely considered to be one of the best strikers in the sport.
But, Whittaker is taller than Gastelum, his striking is more kickboxing orientated, and few would argue that what he’s done in his run at 185 is more impressive than the latter. After all, this is a guy who has defeated Yoel Romero twice and “Jacare” Souza. So, it’s going to be really interesting to see what unfolds in the bout with Adesanya.
Plus, it’s interesting to see the normally reserved Whittaker making these comments so early on. It should make for a fascinating pre-fight narrative.