Israel Adesanya will fight Robert Whittaker next if “The Reaper” beats Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 290, but his team will not be happy about it.
That’s the general gist we’re getting from multiple interviews with Adesanya and his coach Eugene Bareman. With Adesanya set to defend his middleweight title in Sydney this September, Whittaker vs. Du Plessis on July 8th has become a likely No. 1 contender match. One that “The Last Stylebender” expects Whittaker to win, derailing a grudge match with Du Plessis.
“I’d say Rob can probably get him out of there in the second round, or just beat him up for three rounds,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel (via MMA Fighting). “Dricus’ only chance — I don’t like to say there’s no way, because there’s always a way — but he can’t outlast Rob. I think Rob will be faster than him, fitter than him, so he might just have to make it ugly. But Rob can also fight ugly as well, so we’ll see.”
“Honestly, 70 [percent chance Whittaker wins], but I really want Dricus.”
Adesanya and Whittaker have already fought twice before, with Adesanya going 2-0 over the former middleweight champion. According to Israel’s coach Eugene Bareman, their reluctance to do a third fight has to do with Whittaker’s lack of accolades following the second defeat.
“We’ve fought him, and he’s basically been in the ring one time since then.” Bareman said in an interview with Sky Sports New Zealand. “Whereas we’ve just been tracking on, so like, I don’t know.”
“We are who we are. Just put the opponent in front of us, and then we’ll fight. I mean, our preference is not to fight Robert again because we’ve obviously already beaten Robert twice, and he hasn’t really done anything since that loss to warrant fighting again. So our preference would be the South African. But then the South African has to cross the line, and obviously, he has a very tough opponent.”
Whittaker is a big -390 favorite over Du Plessis, who is a +280 dog. So the odds are certainly pointing towards a third Adesanya vs. Whittaker fight. On his YouTube channel, Izzy said that wouldn’t bother him.
“I think there’s another story there,” he said. “It’s in a new city in Australia, another stadium, I’m sure. This one, it will be a nice day. I like it in Sydney. It will be a sunshiny day.”