“I told you guys that night, I asked him in in the octagon, I said, ‘Are you OK?’ White said after DWCS Season 7, Week 6. “He said, ‘I’ll talk to you later.’ I bumped into him in the back, and he told me about as much as he told you. It was strange.”
Adesanya appeared backstage at UFC 293 after his loss to Sean Strickland in what was immediately a contender for “Upset of the Year.” But he made only a brief statement to reporters before passing off his press conference to his longtime coach, Eugene Bareman, who sought an immediate rematch to correct mistakes made with Strickland.
“I had a different plan for this, but again, life throws curveballs at you,” Adesanya said. “Win or lose, I wasn’t going to say much anyway, but right now, I lost tonight to the better man on the night. I just want to go and be with people who care about me — my team and they’re waiting for me so I’m going to do that.”
Strickland was as high as a 7-1 underdog in the fight with Adesanya. Yet after five rounds of dominating “The Last Stylebender,” he took home unanimous scorecards of 49-46.
In the immediate aftermath of the upset, White indicated to reporters that an immediate rematch between Strickland and Adesanya was a strong possibility.
“I think you do the rematch, absolutely,” White said. “The rematch is interesting. That could be the thing, too. When you think about [Adesanya] going into the [Alex] Pereira fight, such a big fight, and you’ve been in there with this guy so many times, and then you overlook Strickland. You come in, and I don’t know. I don’t know the answers to these questions, but Israel does, and I’m looking forward to hearing it.”
That was before Adesanya briefly spoke to the press and left more questions than answers about his performance. But one thing White disputed was his stance on the likelihood of the rematch over other options in the UFC middleweight division.
One-time title challenger Jared Cannonier weighed in for UFC 293 as a backup in case anything happened with the event. Dricus du Plessis was scheduled to face Adesanya before a foot injury forced him to bow out. And a UFC 294 matchup between Khamzat Chimaev and one-time title challenger Paulo Costa had the MMA world talking about a title shot for the winner of the fight.
Even with questions about Adesanya hanging in the air, White reacted angrily at the idea that he’d already booked Strickland vs. Adesanya 2.
“I think if you remember that night, people said, ‘What do you think, you think rematch?’ I said, ‘Yeah, the rematch sounds great,’” White spat. “I saw the stupid f****** s*** that was written by all these stupid f****** websites. Never once did I say, ‘Yes, we’re going to f****** do this rematch.’ There’s obviously lots of options out there, and we’ll see what happens. But yes, I’m not opposed to an Israel rematch. We’ll see how it goes.”