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Coach: Robert Whittaker ‘won’t acknowledge the skills’ of Israel Adesanya

“Not one of Israel’s opponents will acknowledge every single time how good they are at what they do and then pick them apart.”

UFC Australia Media Opportunity Photo by Daniel Pockett/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Could Robert Whittaker be underestimating Israel Adesanya ahead of UFC 243?

Adesanya’s head coach, Eugene Bareman, certainly seems to think so, and the New Zealander thinks Whittaker’s refusal to acknowledge ‘The Last Stylebender’s’ skills will inevitably lead to the champ’s downfall on October 6.

“One common theme I’ve seen with all the opponents is the same rhetoric and it’s they won’t acknowledge what’s in front of them,” Bareman told The Body Lock’s John Hyon Ko in a recent interview, per Abhinav Kini. “They won’t acknowledge the skills, they always downplay it. Not one of Israel’s opponents will acknowledge every single time how good they are at what they do and then pick them apart.

“Robert’s entered into the same rhetoric as all the other opponents. Downplaying what Israel is and how good he is. And that’s fine, maybe that’s what you’re going to do to boost your confidence.”

Whittaker, the reigning middleweight champion, has been critical of Adesanya’s Fight of the Night performance against Kelvin Gastelum, where the 30-year-old earned a gruelling unanimous decision win in the UFC 236 co-main event to capture the interim middleweight title.

‘The Reaper’ believes Adesanya was partly exposed in the Gastelum bout and says the former kickboxing champ should be ‘very worried’ ahead of UFC 243.

Coach Bareman, however, isn’t worried in the slightest.

“I’ll be worried when an opponent comes through and starts acknowledging what Israel is, his strengths,” he said. “That’s when I’ll start to worry. But unfortunately, Robert hasn’t done that.”

“…I see Israel just controlling the fight with his range and with his speed and where he wants the fight to be and where he wants Robert to be.”

UFC 243: Whittaker vs. Adesanya takes place next month, Oct. 6 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.

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