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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Danny Segura

Robert Whittaker: I’m ‘a hellish fight for both’ Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya

Despite achieving the greatest of heights in the UFC, Robert Whittaker believes he still hasn’t reached his ceiling.

The former UFC middleweight champion feels like his game is still on an upward trajectory and sees himself as a major threat to the title despite losing the belt and failing to recapture it.

Whittaker (24-6 MMA, 15-4 UFC) lost the belt to Israel Adesanya in 2019. He then won three straight fights, eliminating the top contenders at the time, and earned himself another chance at becoming champion. Unfortunately for Whittaker, he came up short in a close decision in the rematch against Adesanya. And not long after, Adesanya lost the belt to Alex Pereira.

The Australian is still gunning to become champions and is confident he can get that done once again.

“I can take myself to a new level. I do feel I can get in there and put on a better performance,” Whittaker said on Bisping’s YouTube channel. “I kind of understand where Adesanya was mentally, I guess. Going into the rematch after losing twice to the same guy, it was a very similar predicament with me and Adesanya.

“I do believe that him getting through the fight the way he did, and the way everything is going, the next fight is the best one. But it is what it is. I do want that fight. I do believe that I mix, I use mixed martial arts better than both guys. I do believe I can use my wrestling and grappling to make it a hellish fight for both of them.”

Whittaker was supposed to fight at UFC 284 on Feb. 14 against Paulo Costa, but the matchup fell through due to contract disputes between UFC and Costa. He’s unsure whom he’ll get matched up with next or when he’ll return.

As for Adesanya and Pereira, the two were booked into an immediate rematch at UFC 287 on April 8. Whittaker thinks Adesanya has the skills to get one back but wonders how his mental state will be.

“If we look at the fight just from a mental perspective, I believe Adesanya had a better chance last fight,” Whittaker said. “But in saying that, maybe now that the worst has happened, it frees him up for the next one. You can see where it swings both ways really easily. It can either swing one way and free him up where the worst has happened, or he’s worried about it happening again because of the small gloves. Skills wise, he could’ve beat him last time. It was a close fight.”

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