Robert Whittaker is a tried and tested champion, but surging middleweight prospect Israel Adesanya believes he could take the sport to the next level with UFC gold wrapped around his waist instead.
Adesanya has the style, charisma and image to potentially be the UFC’s next breakout star and, speaking to Submission Radio ahead of his highly-anticipated fight against Anderson Silva, ‘The Last Stylebender’ said it would be in the promotion’s best interest if he became the next middleweight champion.
“I don’t know about rather, but for the company, it’s in their best interest if I was the champion,” Adesanya said, per Drake Riggs of BJPenn.com. “Because I play the game well, I know how to do all this sh*t. And I know that with the belt comes extra responsibility, so I’ll be able to take on those roles, and with my management team as well, like, work out what we need to do with the UFC to play ball. So yeah, I wouldn’t say they’re hoping, I think for the best interest of the company it’d be in their best interest to have me as champion to move the whole sport forward better.”
Adesanya has a tremendous amount of respect for Whittaker, but the former kickboxer doesn’t believe the current champ plays the game as well as he could.
“Not just in this part of the world but all over the world. I’m Mr. worldwide, I’ve been all over the world. I’m able to connect with so many different people from all walks of life. And Rob, he’s a great champion. He’s the darkhorse of all champions. He’s the most underrated champion in UFC history because he doesn’t play the game as well as I can. And I’m talking fighting, I’m talking everything around it. But you have to realize, this all comes with it when it comes to prizefighting.”
UFC 234, which features both Whittaker vs. Gastelum and Adesanya vs Silva, takes place later tonight, Feb. 9 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.
If Whittaker and Adesanya win their respective bouts, expect the UFC to book a title fight between the two middleweights in the near-future.