The UFC 243 headliner between Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya is bound to be a striker’s delight according to welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
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Whittaker and Adesanya collide at the Marvel Stadium in Melbourne on October 5 when they unify the middleweight titles in what is being regarded as the biggest Australasian fight in history.
Given both their styles, it’s possible this entire fight will be contested on the feet. But if anyone plans on beating either of them, Usman believes they need to be able to control them on the ground with their wrestling.
“That’s a really fun one. It’s a striker’s delight because for both guys, I don’t think they necessarily possess the skills to threaten each other with the takedown,” Usman told Chael Sonnen recently of the matchup.
“They don’t necessarily wrestle well. Not well, but I don’t think they possess the skills that you drill time and time again, years and years. Penetrating, lock up the double leg or single leg, run the pipe, get them down to the ground and control them.
“I think to beat a guy like Adesanya and a guy like Whittaker, you have to at some point, control them rather than let them dance around and set up their strikes and land something big, get you out of there potentially.”
It’s hard to pick a winner, but Usman’s choice is not surprising.
“I think it’s a toss-up but obviously if I had to pick, I’m going to go with the buddy of mine Adesanya,” he added. “But I take nothing away from Whittaker, I think he’s been a great champion. He’s a problem for anyone.”
Sonnen then chimed in that Whittaker showed a lot of grit and toughness in his last two fights against Yoel Romero. Romero is an Olympic-level wrestler and one of the toughest fighters in the entire promotion. However, he wasn’t able to put away Whittaker. He also landed just 7 takedowns out of an attempted 28, never really controlling “The Reaper,” either.
Usman seemed to disregard the “Soldier of God” as he believes Whittaker is yet to fight the caliber of wrestler who can get a hold of him.
“He’s one of those guys that’s kind of, I don’t know if it’s necessarily, he hasn’t fought a wrestler that can potentially get a hold of him,” Usman explained. “But he did fight Derek Brunson and Derek Brunson was an All-American.”
Wonder what Romero thinks of that?