Robert Whittaker demands rematch with Israel Adesanya after dominating Kelvin Gastelum in Vegas

'That's the fight that I want and that's what I'm getting' says No 1 contender

Robert Whittaker has set sights on a rematch with UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, saying “no other fight makes sense” as he eyes a stadium headliner in Australia or New Zealand later this year.

Whittaker, the division’s No 1-ranked contender, put on a clinic of a display against Kelvin Gastelum at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Sunday morning, dominating to earn a unanimous decision. All three judges scored the headline bout 50-45.

The victory was Whittaker’s third since losing the belt to Adesanya in late 2019, including two at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, with those coming against top-ranked opponents Darren Till and Jared Cannonier.

With another chalked off on Sunday, Whittaker is now targeting a chance to avenge his defeat to Adesanya – it marks his sole loss in the past seven years, a run stretching 13 fights – at UFC 243 in Melbourne in October 2019.

Adesanya, who prevailed by second-round knockout, is coming off a defeat having last month suffered his first reverse in professional mixed martial arts when he stepped up against light-heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.

Speaking after Sunday’s win against Gastelum, Whittaker told the assembled media: "There's no fight that makes sense for me but that title shot, that's the fight that I want and that's what I'm getting.

“Nothing but respect. [Adesanya's] a great fighter. But I think it’s about time we crossed paths once again. They might just open up the borders for Australia in September. Let’s make that happen. Let’s see if we can get a stadium back home.”

Whittaker is a New Zealand-born Australian, while Adesanya was born in Nigeria but moved to New Zealand at age 10, giving a fight in that part of the world obvious appeal.

Whittaker beats Darren Till in Abu Dhabi

Adesanya, whose pro record reads 20-1, was quick to respond on social media to Whittaker’s latest triumph, although with more than a little hint of a jibe, posting: “Good job, my son.”

When told about the tweet, Whittaker (23-5 MMA) said: “It’s him. It is what it is. He had a win, he gets to trash talk, right? He beat me last time. But I’m going to work hard, and I think I’ve got some tricks he hasn’t seen yet.

“It was always a goal to fight for that gold because it was just one of the things… I take it one fight at a time. I never look into the future because it’s so uncertain when you have a dangerous opponent like Till, Cannonier, Gastelum in front of you. How can I try to plan things with Adesanya when I have those killers in front of me?

“The next fight for me is for the title. That’s the fight I’ve earned.”

Kevin Iole, the Yahoo! Sports columnist, reported that he had texted UFC president Dana White about making Adesanya-Whittaker 2 next, with White apparently replying: "That makes sense". Whittaker and Gastelum's match-up was named Fight of the Night on Sunday.

Published: April 18, 2021 12:07 PM

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