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Morning Report: Robert Whittaker stunned by ‘absolute giant’ Alex Pereira, feels new champ is still better matchup than Israel Adesanya

UFC 281: Adesanya v Pereira Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Robert Whittaker anticipates a major size difference should he be matched with Alex Pereira in the near future.

The Brazilian kickboxing sensation captured UFC gold this past weekend at UFC 281 in only his fourth octagon appearance. Picking up the combat sports hat trick over Israel Adesanya, Pereira put away his rival in the fifth and final round of their main event tilt with a flurry of punches against the cage.

Watching the bout closer than most as the former champion and top contender, Whittaker — a former welterweight — couldn’t help but notice how large Pereira was compared to their middleweight counterpart. Ahead of the fight, Pereira shared weight highs of 232 pounds in preparation for his big title fight. Ultimately, he had no issues making the 185-pound mark when it mattered most.

“As I said before, I’m not planning past [Paulo] Costa, but I can say that I think Pereira’s a better matchup for me than Israel,” Whittaker said during the UFC 284 tickets-on-sale press conference. “Just because of the way he stands and the way he likes to push forward. The way he likes to fight I feel gives me a better edge, but in saying that, did you see the size of the fella? (laughs) I’m like, why is nobody mentioning that? Dude’s just giant. He’s an absolute giant.

“I’ve been face to face with Israel and it’s surprising to see like, Israel’s pretty big. He looks tall and lanky, but he’s actually a big dude. Then you see Pereira up against him and just his facial features are bigger, feet and hands and forearms are massive. I’m just thinking like, who let this guy in? (laughs) But still, I think I can take him.”

Whittaker’s prior two losses to Adesanya in recent years put him in somewhat of a limbo this year unsure of when he could challenge for a title again. Now that the title has changed hands, the window of opportunity has re-opened, but he may still have to wait to see how a potential rematch between the two plays out first.

Before even that, however, Whittaker will need to get back on a winning streak by defeating the aforementioned Costa at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia on Feb. 11.

“I understood that if I waited until November to wait to see who would come out on top that I could possibly waited out [for] a title shot,” Whittaker said. “The thing is in doing that, I’ve done that before ... I just end up sitting on the bench for so long. I’m sick of it (laughs). I’m sick of waiting. I just want to get in there, I want to fight. The fact that it’s in Perth is even better. It’s an Australian card, it’s a hop and a skip from where I live. So, I’m really looking forward to getting in there and giving a good showing.”


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LISTEN UP

Fighter vs. Writer. MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin chats with Matt Brown.

Heck of a Morning. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck discusses if the UFC should immediately run back Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya after shocking UFC 281 ending.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Party on.

Rematch?

Ready.

Just fight already.

I mean, you earned it, champ.

Walk.

The Moicano vibe is strong.

Magnum.

MMA all the time.

Watching...

Fitting.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Ovince St. Preux (26-16) vs. Philipe Lins (15-5); UFC 282, Dec. 10

Victoria Lee (3-0) vs. Zeba Bano (1-1); ONE on Prime Video 7, Jan. 13

John Lineker (35-9, 1 no contest) vs. Fabrizio Andrade (8-2, 1 no contest); ONE on Prime Video 7, Feb. 10


FINAL THOUGHTS

Pereira definitely did look massive against Adesanya at UFC 281. Not totally sure how much of a factor that could be for Whittaker in a fight between the two, but I’d love to find out.

Thanks for reading!


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