To most credible minds, Israel Adesanya’s next title fight seems set in stone. COVID-19 restrictions may have delayed his planned rematch against former champion Robert Whittaker, but with Whittaker on a three fight win streak, over three quality, ranked opponents – two of which came in undeniably dominating fashion – it would appear as though there could hardly be another option.
A glance among the current UFC rankings at 185 shows a field populated by two of the ‘Reaper’’s recent victims, and three of the last four men to lose to the champ himself (of which Whittaker is the furthest removed from said loss). Derek Brunson, the only other man in the top 5 not covered by that cross section, was knocked out by both Whittaker and Adesanya on their paths to winning the belt.
Nonetheless, Adesanya’s camp sounds as though they’ve maintained a lot of interest in a potential title fight against former welterweight top contender Darren Till. And while Till hasn’t competed since his defeat to Whittaker back in July of last year – due to a broken collarbone – the recent delay of Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2 appears to have given the ‘Last Stylebender’’s camp a chance to start once again campaigning for a bout against the Team Kaobon talent.
City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman recently sat down with the It’s Time for Sports podcast, to talk about the reasons behind the fight delay, and how that might just spell disaster for Whittaker’s hopes of regaining UFC gold.
“One thing that’s looking very unlikely, is for us to be able to get a voucher to get back into this country this year,” Bareman explained. “That is ultimately the crux of the problem, not the opponent. We don’t care about the opponent. It can be Robert [Whittaker], it might not be Robert. I’ve already stated, as far as I’m concerned Robert’s competing with everybody else for that spot. But we cannot get into the country again this year, so it’ll have to be pushed back to next year.
“And, unfortunately for Robert and his team, that puts them in a really unfortunate predicament. Because in-between all of that happening, someone else might put up their hand and be a much better, more delectable fight. Imagine if Darren Till got two wins? Then Robert, you’re getting shifted back one.”
The middleweight title fight had been expected to top UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden on November 6th in New York, NY. Instead, it now appears that card will be headlined by a welterweight title rematch between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. A lightweight top contender’s bout between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler is currently set for the PPV card as well, alongside the return of former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.