UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is reportedly set to put his title on the line for the first time on Feb. 9, facing Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia, and two top contenders to the throne emerged at Saturday’s UFC 230.
Ronaldo Souza became the first Brazilian to ever beat Chris Weidman in the sport, knocking him out in the third round of their co-main event bout at Madison Square Garden in New York, while Israel Adesanya improved to 15-0 with a dominant first-round finish over Derek Brunson.
“Jacare” wants his long-awaited shot at the 185-pound belt next, something he’s campaigned for since leaving Strikeforce in 2013. However, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion did not use his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan to ask for it.
Adesanya, on the other hand, was very vocal about competing for the middleweight gold, even offering to be the back-up fighter for Whittaker vs. Gastelum in Australia.
”He did a nice job,” Souza told MMA Fighting when asked by Adesanya’s performance and call for a title shot, “But what he did, I did better, and twice — and I’m not even a striker —, so what he’s saying makes no sense. He’s talking crap.”
Souza fought Brunson twice in mixed martial arts. Back in 2012, in his penultimate fight under the Strikeforce banner, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist stopped Brunson in just 41 seconds.
They rematched six years later, with Brunson entering the UFC on FOX 27 main event on a roll after back-to-back first-round finishes over Lyoto Machida and Daniel Kelly. It took longer for “Jacare” this time, winning by knockout in three minutes and 50 seconds earlier this year.
“Well, (Adesanya) is good, excellent, has a phenomenal future, is a phenomenal athlete, has a good game,” Souza said, “But he didn’t impress me, no, because I did better than him. Twice.”
The UFC has yet to announce who’s next for both Souza and Adesanya.