It only took Israel Adesanya five fights over the span of one year to claim his first UFC title. So it’s understandable why he carries so much confidence into his fights.
Coming off a five round battle with Kelvin Gastelum to claim the interim middleweight title, Adesanya will now attempt to unify the belt with the reigning 185-pound champion Robert Whittaker this weekend at UFC 243 in Australia.
While the flashy and fierce Adesanya has been unstoppable through his first five UFC fights, Whittaker brings with him a wealth of experience, an undefeated record at middleweight, and a string of high profile wins over names like Yoel Romero and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
None of that seems to matter much to Adesanya, who feels like this fight with Whittaker will be a one-sided affair that will ultimately end with his hand raised as the undisputed UFC middleweight champion.
“I think he’s a guy I can pick apart easily,” Adesanya told MMA Fighting during the UFC 243 media conference call. “But as a challenger, I haven’t faced (him) before, (but) I don’t think [he poses a lot of challenges]. I think he just does what he does very well. But there’s going to be a certain amount of awkwardness that he has that I feel like I haven’t seen before, but he can try and prove me wrong.
“From what I see, I’ll pick him apart quite easily.”
While Whittaker will maintain an experience advantage in the fight, Adesanya feels that he has plenty of weapons that will give the champion a lot of problems.
At the top of that list is Adesanya’s size ,where he will maintain a nearly seven-inch reach advantage on the feet.
“One-hundred percent [it’s an advantage], you know,” Adesanya stated. “I have attributes that I use very well, and I think what his camp might look at is the last fight and think, ‘Oh, well Kelvin (Gastelum) was able to get close.’
“That was just an error on our part – and a beautifully crafted game plan on their part – on how to get close, but we’ve taken care of those errors and those misjudgments on our side. So yes, I’m going to be able to use my height and reach, like I always have.”
If there was one other factor potentially playing into this fight, it goes back to Adesanya’s activity, where he’s been keeping a very busy schedule since first arriving in the UFC last year.
While he rattled off five straight wins over 12 months, Whittaker hasn’t fought since June 2018 due to injuries. An emergency surgery canceled the undisputed champ’s most recently scheduled appearance against Gastelum at UFC 234.
Whittaker promises ring rust won’t be a factor. And while Adesanya isn’t counting on it to affect his opponent, he’s definitely going to test him to see if he’s truly ready for war this weekend.
“For ring rust he can say what he has to say to keep him believing, but there’s a difference between fighting in front of 50 people in some hall and fighting in front of 60,000 people in a stadium,” Adesanya said. “I’ve been active. He hasn’t. I have momentum on my side, he hasn’t.
“I really don’t care if he’s ring rusted or if he’s [not] – I’m just going to do what I do anyway. It doesn’t really matter what he’s bringing. I could start fast, I could start slow, how I please, or … how he presents himself to me (as) the best ever that he’s ever been. I just focus on me at the end of the day.”