If Robert Whittaker thinks he can sit out and wait for his next crack at Israel Adesanya, he can think again.
That’s according to UFC president Dana White, who said during a recent fan Q&A with ESPN’s Laura Sanko that the former middleweight champion will have to fight someone else before he gets the next title shot.
“I don’t think he’s going to get a title shot next,” White said (h/t MMA Junkie). “He’ll have to fight somebody else first. It’s going to depend on what happens with Israel and Jan. We’ll see what happens.”
White initially wanted to book a rematch between Whittaker and Adesanya following Whittaker’s unanimous decision win over Jared Cannonier at UFC 254 but changed his mind following ‘The Reaper’s’ comments at the post-fight press conference.
“He’s a tough fight, man,” Whittaker said of Adesanya. “I’m not stoked to fight him. He’s a hard fight, he’s so good. And he only looked better in his last fight [laughing]. And the fact that he beat me once already.”
White, who assumed Whittaker didn’t want the rematch, decided to book a ‘champ vs. champ’ superfight between Adesanya and Jan Blachowicz instead.
Whittaker insists White twisted his comments and that he is determined to avenge his KO loss to ‘The Last Stylebender’ and reclaim the middleweight title.
“I certainly think he took a little twist to what I said. 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.”
Whittaker will be taking some time off to celebrate the birth of his next child but the UFC veteran is expected to return to the octagon sometime later this year.