When former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker watched Israel Adesanya knockout Alex Pereira in the UFC 287 main event, Whittaker was happy for Adesanya. He also had a moment of clarity and a spark of motivation.
“Honestly, my reaction to Izzy winning was happiness. I was happy for him to win. I think it was a great way for him to win. I think it was a great story closure for their little period, for their thing that’s happening. And, I guess a big thing that I realized is just how bad I want to fight Izzy,” Whittaker told Submission Radio.
“It wasn’t until the fight between Alex and Izzy had played out and was playing out that… if Alex would’ve won, I would’ve moved up to fight Alex. That was a pretty much a sure thing. Which is cool. I want that fight. I’m aiming for the belt. Okay. But it’s not the same. I want to take the belt off Izzy,” Whittaker continued.
“I really want to fight Izzy because since I’ve lost to Izzy, there’s been times people have asked me, ‘how bad do you wanna fight Israel? Or do you just wanna fight for the belt?’ And I’ve always said, I don’t really care. I don’t really care. But no, I do care. I do care. And I’ve realized I care. I want to fight Izzy for the belt, and I want to take the belt off Izzy. That’s what I want to do.”
Whittaker. has lost to Adesanya twice. ‘The Last Stylebander’ finished Whittaker in their first fight at UFC 243. The rematch went the distance at UFC 271. Adesanya needed four fights to defeat Pereira. Whittaker believes that he’ll on need a third to take out Adesanya.
“I do have a lot of respect for his skillset, and I’ve mentioned that before. I’ve mentioned it to his face. But I know it’s a puzzle I can work out, and it excites me. The challenge of trying to beat him, of getting back the belt from him, it’s a driving force for me,” said Whittaker.
“I’m in a tricky position. I’m in a tricky position. I know this. Especially with Izzy winning that fight. I know the path that UFC had was for Pereira to win, me to fight Pereira, beat Pereira, Izzy to fight me. That’s the rematch they wanted. That’s how they wanted it to happen. I’m pretty sure. And I’m not a hundred percent sure. I can’t read their minds. But it sounds good in my head,” continued Whittaker.
“Now, Izzy’s won. Where does that leave me? I Don’t think Pereira’s staying in middleweight. I think he’s moving up. He would. You would think so anyway. So, where does that leave me? Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. But my general idea of getting that title shot is the same. It’s like, if they give it to me, they give it to me. I’m hunting for it. I’m never gonna stop hunting for him. And that’s just the truth of it. I will never stop. I will never stop coming for him. And if I have to run through people and just end people’s careers to get that third shot at him, then I will. That’s just what I’m gonna do. Because it took Izzy four times to beat Alex Pereira. To get his redemption arc. It’ll only take me three to get mine. I guarantee you. The last time was very close. And my headspace was nowhere near as good as it is now. So, with the better skillset, the better mindset, he loses that fight.”
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