Whittaker and Adesanya have shared the Octagon on two occasions. When the pair of elite Oceanic 185lbers first collided, the Australian held the title and the Nigerian-New Zealander had recently had interim gold wrapped around his waist.
At UFC 243 in Melbourne, it was Adesanya who left the cage still in possession of a strap, having upgraded his status to undisputed with a second-round knockout.
Over two years later, they ran it back at UFC 271 after both recording a number of wins since their first outing. This time, the headliner went the distance, with “The Reaper” delivering one of Adesanya’s closer and more competitive defenses.
But despite taking rounds from the champ, Whittaker’s efforts in Houston weren’t enough to dethrone “The Last Stylebender” and return to the top of the middleweight mountain.
At UFC Paris, Whittaker once again showed that he remains the clear second-best at 185 pounds when he dominantly outpointed fellow two-time Adesanya victim Marvin Vettori across three rounds.
Unfortunately for the Aussie, while he consistently cements his place above every other contender, he’s yet to crack the undefeated middleweight puzzle above him on the ladder.
One man thinks he can help change that.
Cejudo: I Can Help Whittaker Pull One Back
During a Q&A session on his YouTube channel, former flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo assessed the current state of the middleweight division, which Adesanya has ruled through five challenges since 2019.
After questioning the fight IQ of those looking to dethrone Adesanya, “Triple C” suggested that Whittaker should become the latest prominent name to train with him at Fight Ready in Arizona.
“The middleweight division, I just don’t see IQ. Even with Robert Whittaker, as much as I like Robert Whittaker,” Cejudo said. “If I was to even get Robert Whittaker like, under me and in my hands, man, I know that I can get Robert Whittaker to beat a guy like Israel. I just have a different sense of it, you know?
“There’s a lot of things he did right and there’s things that he did wrong. Like, being too cautious, over-respecting your opponent, things like that,” Cejudo added.
If “The Reaper” were to accept Cejudo’s invitation, he’d join the likes of GOAT contender Jon Jones, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jiří Procházka, flyweight titleholder Deiveson Figueiredo, and top women’s strawweight contender Zhang Weili in having trained with the 2008 Olympic gold medalist.
While a third clash against someone against whom a fighter has lost twice against would usually appear unrealistic, having just beaten the #3 man in the division and already holding a victory over the #2-ranked Jared Cannonier, Whittaker may be well placed to secure a unique trilogy.
And perhaps with the help of Cejudo, he can drag Adesanya into waters he’s yet to experience at 185 pounds.
Do you agree with Henry Cejudo? Could training with “Triple C” help Robert Whittaker crack the Israel Adesanya puzzle?
This story originally appeared on MMANews.com. Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.