Robert Whittaker has a message for fans who believe he can simply take Israel Adesanya down and easily reclaim the UFC Middleweight Championship.
Whittaker and Adesanya are set to face each other for the second time when they meet at the Toyota Center, in Houston, Texas, this Saturday, February 12. The UFC 271 PPV event will stream live only on ESPN+ this Saturday night.
Speaking with Submission Radio before the title fight rematch with Adesanya, Whittaker laughed at the idea that taking the champion down and controlling him on the ground would be a straightforward task.
“People are saying, ‘you’ve just got to get him on his back.’ Then why hasn’t anybody done it,” Whittaker asked? “Why hasn’t anybody done it? If it’s that simple, why has nobody in the history of Adesanya’s career just taken him down and held him down for five rounds? Why? Because he’s fucking hard to take down. You know what I mean? He is a nightmare to take down. He’s got long limbs, he’s got long arms, and I’m pretty sure he works a little bit of wrestling defense. I have an inkling that that’s what he does, he works a little bit on his wrestling defense because he’s so good at striking he doesn’t want to get taken down.”‘
After Adesanya’s recent fights with Jan Blachowicz and Marvin Vettori, fans seemingly don’t respect Adesanya’s takedown defense in the same way that they may have done before. However, Whittaker is fully aware of how difficult it will be to take Adesanya down at UFC 271.
“When I see people just like, ‘oh, it’s simple, just take him down.’ Yeah, it is simple,” Whittaker said. “You know what else is simple? Go and get a piece of paper, write down a game plan and say, punch him in the chin. That’s a simple game plan that is a surefire way to win. It’s a little harder to pull off when you have all the factors of a title fight going through there. Because remember, where it’s not like a game plan where you give to someone and then all they have to do is execute that game plan on a dummy that isn’t moving, that isn’t trying to actively counteract whatever the hell it is you’re doing.”
Whittaker was unsuccessful in his attempt to defend his title against Adesanya in October 2019 but has been able to study and learn from Adesanya’s fights in the time since the pair first clashed. Of course, Adesanya’s defeat to Jan Blachowicz highlighted some areas of opportunity for Whittaker but it was the Marvin Vettori fight, as well, that proved to be useful for Whittaker’s preparation before UFC 271.
“Obviously when he lost to the Jan. Everyone knew he was beatable then, cause he got beat. But, there were just stylistically, I could see some angles that Jan could capitalize on that I thought, you know what, maybe I can capitalize on those as well. And again when he fought for Vettori I thought the same thing. I saw places where Vettori took advantage, spaces were Vettori took advantage of, and I thought, well, I can do that better.
“And that’s not to say that he’s got huge gaping holes. He’s the champion for a reason, he’s bloody good at his craft. But I just feel like I have a skillset that if he slips up, I’m going to take everything away from him. And I look to try and make him make a mistake.”
You can order the UFC 271 PPV on ESPN+ here to watch Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2 and the entire fight card live this Saturday, January 12 in the United States.
Formerly the lead MMA Editor at RealSport.