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‘It may not be until early next year’ - Whittaker’s manager says COVID has iced Adesanya rematch

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Fans looking forward to seeing Robert Whittaker get a chance to reclaim the middleweight title are likely going to have to wait a while.

Robert Whittaker lands a left hand on Isreal Adesanya at UFC 243.
Robert Whittaker lands a left hand on Isreal Adesanya at UFC 243.
Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Since losing his middleweight title to Israel Adesanya back in 2019, Robert Whittaker has put together a fantastic campaign to prove that he is unquestionably the division’s best title contender. A hard fought victory over Darren Till has been followed by dominant ass-kickings of both Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum. Every time the ‘Reaper’ has stepped into the cage, he’s made it clear that he’s a cut above the other men at 185 lbs vying for a piece of UFC gold.

But, if Whittaker’s case for contention is definite, the timeline for when he might get a chance for revenge against the ‘Last Sylebender’ is anything but. The Gracie Jiu Jitsu Smeaton Grange talent passed up a potential booking back in June (what would have been just a two month turnaround between bouts), resulting in Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 at UFC 263.

With Adesanya winning that match to retain his title, it seemed obvious that the New Zealand vs. Australia rivalry would be rekindled sometime in the second half of the year. Unfortunately, in a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph, Whittaker’s manager revealed that continuing COVID-19 restrictions likely mean neither man will be fighting anytime soon.

“Rob had been told he would be fighting at Madison Square Garden,” manager Titus Day confirmed, suggesting the UFC had planned to book the title fight rematch for their November 6th PPV card. “But there have been some issues since and it can’t happen.

“Apparently, Adesanya could get into America for the fight, but he wouldn’t have been able to get back to NZ immediately afterwards (because of quarantine restrictions).

“So while we know the fight is going to happen, it’s now become a matter of when.

“Unfortunately, given everything going on with Covid in Australia and New Zealand at the moment, it may not be until early next year.”

UFC 268 is currently set to feature a welterweight title rematch between Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman. A lightweight bout between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler has also been penciled in for the event, as well as the middleweight return of Luke Rockhold, taking on Sean Strickland. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and notes as the card approaches.