Last Saturday night at UFC 236, Israel Adesanya claimed the interim UFC middleweight title in a five-round classic against Kelvin Gastelum. It was a star-making performance from Adesanya and sets him up for a title unification bout against champion Robert Whittaker later this year. But for as good as the fight was, Whittaker also said it confirmed what he’s been saying all along: that Adesanya isn’t as good as he thinks he is.
Speaking with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani yesterday, Whittaker said he was impressed with Adesanya’s ability to overcome adversity but that Gastelum exposed holes in “The Last Stylebender” that he intends to take full advantage of.
“If you watch the fight you can see the holes that were there from every fight before, they just got exposed bigger,” Whittaker said.” There were a lot 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 that left. I’ll get in, I’ll land my right. I’m much faster than Gastelum. I’m a better striker, I’m more comfortable there. I stay on the outside, I don’t stay in that mid-ground. Israel should be very worried. I’m a very hard fight.”
Gastelum did have a lot of success striking with Adesanya. While most people assumed Gastelum’s pressure and wrestling game would be among his best paths to victory, instead, Gastelum spent the bulk of five rounds trading shots with the kickboxer at distance. He fared well too, landing 91 significant strikes and seriously wobbling Adesanya once with a head kick. The damage Gastelum was able to put on Adesanya makes Whittaker think that the new interim champion is in a world of trouble against a better fighter like himself.
“Israel doesn’t like getting hit and he’s very, very hittable,” Whittaker said. “That’s it. I hit hard. I like hitting people. I can get in and I can do the damage. I can do the work. If he can weather the storm and take my shots and survive five rounds and counter and do everything he did with Gastelum, then congratulations to him, he’ll get the win, X,Y, Z. But I don’t think he’s going to. I’m a different fighter than Gastelum. I bring much more heat. I hit harder, I hit faster, I gonna come with a new level of intensity he’s not used to.”
Whittaker and Adesanya have been circling each other for months now, with Adesanya saying he’d take the title and Whittaker, of course, refuting the claim. Now, the two are set to throw down in what will be one of the most hotly anticipated fights of 2019. And with both men hailing from Oceania, the UFC has already said it would like to set up the fight in Australia. That’s perfect for Whittaker who has twice been set to defend his middleweight strap in his home country and twice been forced to pull out.
“I haven’t heard too much just yet but third times the charm,” Whittaker concluded. “If I can get it in Australia, surely this time. . . Definitely Sydney. I want it in Sydney. I want it in my backyard. I haven’t fought here since my middleweight debut and I really want to do that. It’s one of the things I want to do, defend my belt in Sydney, home ground, backyard. Third times the charm.”
Out. UFC 236 medical suspensions: Max Holloway, Kelvin Gastelum both out indefinitely.
The MMA Hour.
Dustin and his tattoos.
The Co-Main Event. Recapping UFC 236 and the two crazy interim title fights.
Anik & Florian. Recapping UFC 236 and previewing Overeem vs. Oleinik.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
It came down to the wire...we both put in on for the culture of fighting. You know me and I know you now, this is the fights movies are made of, that 5th round was some legendary shit. It was only possible cuz I had a man as tough as @KelvinGastelum to dance with.— Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) April 15, 2019
So thank you KG https://t.co/3RZV19nuiu
@JonnyBones ...— Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) April 15, 2019
Who called who out first?!
Keep my name out your mouth!!
I'm still working through 185, so sure you may have the better percentage "right now". I'm getting better and better and better at a rapid rate. Your time will come when I say so.#iwontdelete pic.twitter.com/aQC2EnVWkC
Mirko back after his stroke.
Respect from these two.
Get Ovi in the UFC, stat.
Alex Ovechkin knocks out Andrei Svechnikov in a fight. Wow. pic.twitter.com/nbsxGSoRLQ— Ian Oland (@ianoland) April 15, 2019
That technique wasn’t too bad, always room in the UFC https://t.co/k6KPp1oatZ— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) April 16, 2019
USADA is a menace.
Pretty sure there was some precumin one of my usada samples today, if not both. Was actually on my way to get it in when i had to turn back and go home. #blocked— Juan Adams UFC (@chosenjuan285) April 16, 2019
Nick Newell (14-2) vs. Kalvin Hackney (16-5); CES 56, May 31.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2005: Chuck Liddell knocked out Randy Couture in their rematch, claiming the light heavyweight title at UFC 52. Also on this card, Matt Hughes submitted Frank Trigg in their rematch, retaining his welterweight title.
2016: Glover Teixeira knocked out Rashad Evans at UFC on FOX 19. This event was supposed to feature a lightweight bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson but Ferguson withdrew. It was the second time the proposed bout fell through.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
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