Robert Whittaker isn’t exactly stoked about a rematch with Israel Adesanya, but the former UFC middleweight champion never said he didn’t want to fight ‘The Last Stylebender’.
Whittaker believes Dana White took his words out of context and has urged the UFC president to listen back to what he said following UFC 254, which saw ‘The Reaper’ earn a hard-fought decision over Jared Cannonier in the co-main event.
White has since announced that Adesanya will move up in weight to challenge Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title and, if that’s the case, Whittaker has no problem following suit and chasing Adesanya up to 205.
“I certainly think he took a little twist to what I said,” Whittaker told MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn on Monday. “I never said I don’t want to fight Izzy. That’s not something I said. I did not say that. I’m looking to fight March, April next year. I would like to fight Izzy. If Izzy’s moving up to fight Jan, then I’ll move up and fight him there if he gets the win. I want that fight. I do want that fight. We just had to work it into that timeline.
“I have no control on what the UFC’s going to do or what Izzy’s going to do, but whether he’s here at middleweight or up at light heavyweight, I’ll take the fight him.”
“They never reached out to me – not once,” Whittaker continued. “It wasn’t so much of a twist of Izzy fighting Jan. I can see why they would want to do that, why Izzy would want to do that, why the UFC would want it. I can see that happening. It’s more the twist or how he took my words. Either he misinterpreted it or twisted it a little bit. That one took me for a little bit of a ride. But like I said, my timeline stands. That is the fight that I’ve earned.”
“With the twist on words a little bit, it was confusing. It was a little annoying, but it is what it is. Can’t change anything now. … It’s not something I can be upset about, because it is what it is. I’m more confused. That would be the biggest emotion I have right now – like, confused. I wish the open dialogue was there, I wish the communication was there because I’m pretty easy to work with. What’s been done has been done. My timeline stands, I’m going to look at fighting Izzy whether it’s at light heavyweight or middleweight, early next year. We’ll have to see how the dice roll.”
Since losing the middleweight title to Adesanya last year, Whittaker has rebounded with two straight wins over Till and Cannonier to establish himself as the No. 1 contender and rightful challenger to Adesanya’s throne.