Israel Adesanya’s head coach Eugene Bareman is hoping for a much longer, but similarly decisive outcome from his fighter’s first meeting with Robert Whittaker at UFC 271 this Saturday.
Adesanya and Whittaker will compete in a middleweight championship at the Toyota Center in Houston. “The Last Stylebender” became undisputed champion when he knocked Whittaker out in the second round of UFC 243 in October 2019.
While Bareman would certainly not be upset if lightning struck twice in regards to getting a quick finish, the City Kickboxing head man would like Adesanya to put a stamp on the rivalry forever.
“People aren’t going to agree with me, but the ultimate thing you can do in fight sports, I think, is not a knockout, it’s a whitewash,” Bareman told Submission Radio. “What I would like to happen is just a five-round whitewash, where there is no stoppage this time, but like every round there’s just accumulative, accumulative, accumulative damage and it just leaves no doubt, it just leaves no doubt. It’s just 25 minutes of mastery.”
Bareman gave a lot of credit to Whittaker for battling his way back into a title fight, and a rematch with Adesnaya. “The Reaper” responded to the KO loss with a trio of decision wins over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum.
Of course, there’s the age-old argument when it comes to the motivation of a competitor to run it back with somebody they already finished in emphatic fashion. In Bareman’s eyes, Adesanya is taking things very seriously.
“When you win in that fashion, yeah, that little complacency kind of devil that sits on your shoulder, you’re hyper-aware of it,” Bareman said. “So you really want to not fall victim to it. You kind of almost like push things to the absolute limit because you’ve kind of got that thing on your conscience all the time.
“So, in terms of like motivating him to kind of get up for this fight and train hard, it hasn’t been too difficult. We’ve really emphasized that Robert has more to give, that Robert has more to give, but we haven’t forgotten that Israel had a whole lot more to give as well. So, as Robert gives more, Israel also has much more stuff to give in the fight. So, this fight will be a bit more interesting.”
Since capturing the title, Adesanya has successfully defended it against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, and Marvin Vettori. In between the latter two bouts, Adesanya moved up to light heavyweight to challenge then champ Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259, losing a unanimous decision in his bid to become a two-division champion. The wrestling and ground control of Blachowicz was the difference maker in the fight throughout the championship rounds.
On The MMA Hour, Whittaker said that he believed Blachowicz may have laid out the blueprint on how to beat the defending champion. Bareman might not buy that sentiment, but he certainly expects a much calmer challenger this Saturday night.
“I think they have a very smart team, these guys,” Bareman explained. “I studied them extensively for the first fight, and I quickly figured out that they’re an elite team, they’re a very smart team. They know they cannot transpose what Jan did to Israel. There’s little things you can take, but at the end of the day, you got to work with the athlete that you’ve got in front of you.
“And they understand that they don’t have a Jan in front of them. So, they’re too smart to do that. But yeah, I expect a little bit less panic and a little bit more respect from Robert. I expect him not to be so aggressive this time. That’s the only thing I can kind of take a good calculated guess at.”