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Robert Whittaker stumps for Israel Adesanya rematch, gives Jake Paul his props

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UFC Fight Night: Whittaker v Gastelum
Robert Whittaker
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Marvin Vettori sat cageside at UFC Vegas 24 and reportedly called for a No. 1 contender fight with the victorious Robert Whittaker. But the ex-champ had a message for his colleague at Saturday’s post-fight press conference.

“I’ve fought nothing but No. 1 contenders,” said Whittaker, who’s beaten Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and now Kelvin Gastelum since losing his belt to current champ Israel Adesanya. “I’ve already ran the gauntlet. Everybody that had a title shot if they beat me, I beat. That’s it.

“I like Marvin, I guess. He’s alright. But I think there’s fights he still needs to make. I don’t think he’s fought the top three dudes, the top five dudes, really. But he can wait his turn. Let me have my fight, and then he can fight the winner of that. Relax.”

Whittaker isn’t bothered too much by the eagerness of Vettori, or the verbal jabs of Adesanya, who immediately weighed in on UFC Vegas 24’s outcome with a little reminder of his dominance.

“I’ve played video games my entire life. I’m no stranger to trash talk,” Whittaker said. “Honestly, he gets to do it. He won the last fight between us, so I’ve guess it was coming, right? It’s just him being him, I guess.”

For what it’s worth, Whittaker seems to have the endorsement of UFC President Dana White, who told Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole that a meeting between Whittaker and Adesanya “makes sense.” Whittaker has already pitched the idea of a stadium show Down Under in September, which would be a reprise of their fateful title fight at UFC 243.

“I’ll go home and look at my injuries, because that was a tough fight,” Whittaker said. “But I think the borders in New Zealand are the best they’ve ever been, so September I think we can get a packed out show and pump the industry down there and the MMA industry as a whole.”

It was an interesting statement coming on a night where much of the combat sports and pop culture world was focused on something entirely different than the UFC, a boxing match between YouTube celebrity Jake Paul and ex-MMA champ Ben Askren.

The main events of UFC Vegas 24 and Triller Fight Club started at the exact same time. They didn’t end nearly as close, with Paul flooring Askren in the first round as Whittaker and Gastelum plied their trade and showed the best of MMA.

Despite an ongoing debate over combat sports purity and the requisite critics from both sides of the boxing/MMA aisle, Whittaker had nothing bad to say about Paul’s win other than some cheeky fun at Askren’s expense. Trash talk, just the usual.

“Well, just nobody saw that coming,” Whittaker deadpanned before a chuckle. “Ben Askren is not known for his boxing, is he? But good on [Paul]. He’s doing his thing. Keep doing your thing.”

When the MMA world learned about Askren’s hefty $500,000 payday, there were undoubtedly a few golf claps for his decision to box Paul. Whittaker was downright understanding.

“Yeah, I’d fight him for less,” he said with another chuckle.