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Israel Adesanya fires back at Robert Whittaker as war of words heats up ahead of expected rematch

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has never really been known for his trash talk, but he may have just ignited a war of words with reigning king Israel Adesanya.

With all signs pointing towards a rematch between them later this year, Whittaker commented on Adesanya’s recent win over Marvin Vettori where he won a lopsided unanimous decision following a five round fight at UFC 263.

“Watching that fight against Vettori, you can see Adesanya is not untouchable,” Whittaker said when speaking to the Daily Telegraph. “It reinforced the fact that he’s very human. Very touchable. I actually thought his performance was average. Not average in the context of being bad but he never did anything more than what he had to do. He didn’t do anything flashy. He didn’t do anything more than necessary, which is a good approach.

“But it certainly doesn’t put you in the realm of Gods. He’s definitely not a God. He’s a very good fighter, sure but he’s not as good as he thinks he is.”

That last part in particular obviously caught Adesanya’s attention as he fired back at Whittaker with a not so subtle reminder about what happened the last time they met in the cage.

“If I’m ‘not as good as I think I am,’ then what does that make you,” Adesanya said on Instagram.

His answer was accompanied by a photo from their previous fight, which ended in emphatic fashion after Adesanya bloodied Whittaker on the feet before delivering a vicious second-round knockout to become the undisputed UFC middleweight champion.

Adesanya continued with another post showing his faceoff with Whittaker attached with the message “happy father’s day, son” and then a separate post on Twitter as well.

“I might not be a god to you but I baptized you,” Adesanya wrote.

While it seems unlikely that Whittaker will suddenly abandon his typically reserved demeanor to engage in a back-and-forth verbal battle with Adesanya, the recent exchange has certainly started building anticipation towards what appears to be an inevitable rematch.

Since falling to Adesanya in 2019, Whittaker has rattled off three straight wins over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum as he seeks to reclaim the title.

Meanwhile, Adesanya has remained champion with three more defenses of the middleweight title and now he’ll look to add Whittaker’s name to his win column for a second time when they meet again.

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