The rematch between current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (20-0) and former 185-pound champion Robert Whittaker (22-5) is the fight that makes sense. This is according to Dana White, who spoke to reporters at the UFC 254 post-fight press conference this past weekend at Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi aka “Fight Island”.
Whittaker defeated Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision (video highlights here) in the co-headliner of PPV card, topped by newly-retired and now former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who submitted Justin Gaethje in the second round (watch highlights). Adesanya is also fresh off the win, scoring the second-round stoppage against Paulo Costa (highlights here) late September at the same venue.
Adesanya and Whittaker fought in October 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. The bout ended in favor of Adesanya, who became a new undisputed middleweight champion by knockout in Round 2.
— FIGHTMAG (@fightmag) October 6, 2019
When asked whether the rematch between Adesanya and Whittaker was appealing to him, Dana White said it was very appealing.
“It’s the fight that makes sense right now, White said. “Adesanya has a lot of options, but the fight that makes the most sense right now is Whittaker.”
“I thought Cannonier was gonna be a much tougher challenge for him. He [Whittaker] looked good tonight. So, Adesanya fight makes sense.”
I do want to fight him, one day
Robert Whittaker also spoke to media at the presser following UFC 254. When asked when he was looking to be back in action he said March, April. He outlined a more important happening ahead other than fighting.
“I got Christmas, and then the new-born in January,” Whittaker said. I don’t want to be thinking about a fight in the lead up to my new born. With all my kids I’ve been thinking about fights, I’ve had my mind elsewhere, and I felt like I wasn’t in the moment. I refuse to that to this one.”
When asked whether the rematch with Adesanya was the fight that interested him the most Whittaker said: “Ah yeah”. It wasn’t exactly clear whether he would want to face his old foe in his next appearance inside the Octagon, but certainly “one day”.
“He is a tough fight man,” Whittaker said. “He is a hard fight, he is so good. He only looked better in his last fight [against Costa]… And 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.”
“But honestly, I know he is trying to do everything else and good on him to do that. I am not thinking about him. Maybe me and him shouldn’t be thinking about [each other], maybe he can go up to light heavy or heavyweight, whatever he wants to do. Doesn’t bother me. My plans are Christmas, my baby, and then hopefully our timelines lineup then.”
“I do want to fight him, one day. Whether it’s in my career or in the parking lot like as two old fellows one day. I feel like our paths will cross again. And that’s a warrior, it’s something I need to do. But I am not worried who I fight next. My whole mentality with this game is you line them up and I’ll knock them down. I’m pretty good at that.”
Whittaker is riding the two-win streak. He rebounded with a unanimous decision over Darren Till in July, followed by a recent win against Cannonier.
Adesanya is unbeaten in all of his 20 outings. Before his fight with Costa, he defeated Yoel Romero, Whittaker, Kelvin Gastelum, and Anderson Silva.