The Fight is on! Officials have announced last week that Israel Adesanya faces Robert Whittaker at UFC 243. The 185-pound title unification match between the interim Middleweight champ Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya and the defending undisputed king Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker is officially set for October 5th.
The bout has been reported to have been in the works for quite some time and its finally set to happen in a few short months! It’s likely to take place in the Massive Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
As both fighters hailing from the kiwi area, the first unification title match between the two champions in Australia seems like a great fit!
Dana White confirmed the title unification match would happen in “The Land Down Under” at UFC Apex Opening Media Scrum.
This should be one hell of a match. But before that, there’s nothing like some good trash talk before the bout. If you know Adesanya, he’s known to mock his future rivals before a fight - he's done so against Jon Jones and many of his other rivals! Twitter fingers were triggered, words were fired, and the beef between the two is slowly cooking!
Background Before the Feud
The UFC reigning defending undisputed 185-pound champion Robert Whittaker successfully defended his strap against Yoel Romero back at UFC 225, on June 9, 2018.
Israel Adesanya fired off their beef in November 2018. He didn’t mince words while identifying the Octagon warrior he was gunning for.
“I beat him wherever I want,” Adesanya spoke candidly of Robert Whittaker. “If I’m being frank, Rob is lacking defensively and that’s where I’ll take him. And I can do that any way I want. I know he’s a fighter who wants to go out there and bust people up, but I’m not a guy you mess with.”
Robert Whittaker Out of UFC 234
Robert Whittaker was set to defend his belt in the main event of UFC 234 but pulled out less than 24 hours before the bout because of hernia issues. Meanwhile, Adesanya fought on the same fight card and outmatrixed UFC legend Anderson Silva for a unanimous decision victory.
UFC set the interim 185-pound bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum for UFC 236, which Adesanya later won via unanimous decision after five outstanding rounds.
Whittaker Questions Adesanya's Skills in the Octagon
Although impressed by his recent performances, Robert Whittaker questioned ex-Glory Kickboxing champ’s skills in the Octagon, pointing out on the difference between Octagon and kickboxing.
“We’re not kickboxing, the difference in striking in the Octagon as opposed to the ring is night and day. Comparing the two isn’t applicable. Yes, he can take a lot of the skillsets over and they’re very transferable, but it’s not the same. It’s not the same.”
“Having very high technical skills in striking, isn’t the same as being a very dangerous striker.”
Adesanya Believes Whittaker Will Pull Out of Their Upcoming Match
In June 2019, Israel Adesanya spoke on Submission Radio. The interim Middleweight belt owner said he didn’t believe the undisputed champ would even make it to the cage and added there should be odds for such a scenario.
“I’m going to put a wager out there and see if he makes it to the fight. So, I’m prepared for him, but I don’t know if he’s gonna make it to the fight. That’s just history.”
“They should put a wager on ‘will Robert make it to this fight? Will he pull out of this fight?’ and put odds on that based on all his other fights.”
Face Off at the UFC Summer Press Conference
The two champions took part in a heated face off at UFC Summer Press Conference, but the stare down didn’t turn physical.
Looking back at the face off, Israel Adesanya said the defending champ reminded him of a “meth head”
“At the staredown, he just reminded me of like a meth head,” Adesanya told MMA Junkie at the UFC Hall of Fame ceremony. “When you look into someone’s eyes and you’re just like, yeah, and I’m looking at him like OK, cool. He’s a guy, he’s been here, he’s tough, he’s a vet in this game, so I don’t have to try and get under his skin. He’s not under my skin, and he says he doesn’t think about me, and I don’t want him to. I don’t expect him to. My coaches think about him a lot, though, and we’re going to devise a beautiful strategy to take him off.”
Memes Hurt Feelings
With Instagram floating with some memes over the upcoming fight, Whittaker thought it’d be funny to repost one in particular: The Reaper vs Bender!
Well Adesanya didn’t think it was funny at all! There were some harsh verbal exchanges at the UFC Summer Press-Conference. Israel Adesanya confronted Robert Whittaker over an Instagram meme he posted.
But Whittaker claimed he couldn’t understand why Adesanya was so upset and even apologized for his actions:
“I haven’t been saying (expletive) at all,” Whittaker said. “I haven’t been talking (expletive) at all - I put a picture up that somebody else put up. I’m sorry.”
Adesanya Fires Back Mocking Whittaker's Inactivity in the Octagon
Israel Adesanya continued mocking Robert Whittaker due to his inactivity caused by injuries. The interim champ also stated he minded his own business while Robert Whittaker was “talking trash about him the whole time”.
“Last 18 months, it’s been crazy,” Adesanya said. “Got signed last year in February. Six fights in, and I’m the champ. Yeah, I can’t say for him. He’s fought twice in the last maybe three years. I’ve been busy. So, the last four months, took some time off. I relaxed, went on holiday. I wasn’t doing (expletive). He keeps talking (expletive) about me the whole time, and I’ve just been chillin’, minding my own business. I can’t wait. I’m motivated, and I’m just quiet, and I’m ready to go.”
Whittaker tried to defend himself, complimenting Adesanya and claiming he could do nothing against his illness.
“I think he’s a great fighter,” Whittaker said of Adesanya. “He’s got a very dangerous skillset. I don’t think I’ve been talking that much (expletive). I don’t know what I did to upset him. But I think it’s going to be a killer fight. And, yeah, it’s unfortunate that I was only able to fight twice in the last two years. It’s just one of those things. I got sick, couldn’t help that.”
But Adesanya of course didn’t buy Whittaker’s excuses. The Nigerian-born New Zealander said he has never pulled out, and again questioned whether “The Reaper” would even come to their title bout on October 5th.
“I never call in sick whenever I show up,” Adesanya said. “I could’ve pulled out. My last fight, my knee got (expletive) up, I could’ve pulled out, but I never pull out. I show up, I step up, and I show out.”
Israel Adesanya Warns Whittaker to Stay in His Lane
Adesanya was obviously frustrated by Whittaker’s comments and issued him a warning.
“I’m just saying stay in your lane. He (Whittaker) never talks (expletive), but suddenly he’s the one putting memes up. What?”
But it seems Adesanya’s efforts to irritate the undisputed champ failed. Whittaker looked calm and collected and kept his peaceful attitude during the press conference. The Australian hinted for an entertaining match.
“It’s cool,” Whittaker said. “I think it’s going to be a cracker fight. I think it’s going to be fireworks.”
And that it will be! Ladies and gentlemen, we’re two-and-a-half months away from this great 185-pound title unification clash. Adesanya Faces Robert Whittaker at UFC 243!
There will be a lot more beef between those two. But at the end of the day, the true victor won’t be in these social media and interview battles, it will be the one with their hand raised at the end of the bout. Share your comments with us, predict your winner! Should be one hell of a fight!