14 Mar - 
Morning Report: Israel Adesanya on Robert Whittaker: ‘He thinks I’m not as good as I think I am, I’ll show him I’m greater than I think I am’

Israel Adesanya will face Kelvin Gastelum for the interim middleweight title at UFC 236, but he already has his sights set on bigger game, namely the middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.

Whittaker and Adesanya have seemingly been on a collision course for the past year as Adesanya has stormed his way up the UFC rankings. In fact, the two might have been booked against each other this year had Whittaker not been forced out of his title defense against Gastelum due to a sudden hernia at UFC 234. Instead, Whittaker is now on the mend and has made it clear that if he had his druthers, Adesanya would beat Gastelum so he could fight “The Last Stylebender” next and prove that he “isn’t as good as he thinks he is.” Now, Adesanya has responded.

Speaking recently with Submission Radio, Adesanya addressed Whittaker’s comments and actually agreed with Whittaker. He isn’t as good as he thinks he is - he’s better.

“I don’t think of those comments and it doesn’t affect me in any way,” Adesanya said. “I mean, when the time comes, when I have the mic in my hand, I’m saying my thing. I’ll say, he thinks I’m not as good as I think I am, I’ll show him I’m greater than I think I am. So, they all can talk, they all have something to say until they’re in front of me, and they get chin checked.”

Adesanya has only been in the UFC for a year but in that short time he has already racked up five wins and built a cult of personality that has fans likening him to Conor McGregor. That confidence was well-earned from his years in kickboxing but Whittaker believes that doesn’t translate over to MMA where striking is very different, and where guys like Yoel Romero are more dangerous. In short, Whittaker believes he can beat Adesanya on the feet, but “The Last Stylebender” isn’t buying it.

“I’m not like Wonderboy [Stephen Thompson],” Adesanya said. “Even the way I fight, I’m not like Wonderboy, I’m not like anyone he’s ever fought that’s actually given him problems, depending on weight classes. I’m not like Yoel Romero. This is different. I’m still learning. You know, even though I’ve had so many fights in just one year, I’ve learned and I’ve grown with each fight, but it’s only been a year in the UFC. Don’t worry. They’re writing checks with their mouth right now, but their ass will cash it later on.”

Later on could be as soon as this summer if Adesanya beats Gastelum next month. Whittaker is targeting a return at the end of the summer against the interim champion, whoever that may be. Adesanya, of course, believes that will be him and it’s a moment he says he’s been dreaming about, not because he particularly cares about the belt, but because he cares about the experience.

“A lot of people say they don’t care about the belt, but that’s not true,” Adesanya said. “For me, when I say it, I really mean that. But I care about it in a way like I care about my jewelry. It looks really nice, and also what it signifies, as well as being the best in the world. But I’ll tell you what, I’ve known a few fighters in the past who I’ve considered to be the best in the world who’ve never had a belt. And the belt’s not always a good judgment on who the best fighter actually is. So yeah, for me, the belt is more like me living what I’ve dreamed in my head, me actually getting it done. And then it’s like, ‘and new’, Dana puts the belt around your waist, and that moment will be cool. But I won’t feel any different. Rashad Evans said it best. He said, after he won the belt at UFC 92 against Forrest Griffin, after he won the belt he expected to feel different, but he never did. And I already kind of know that about myself. Like, it’s not gonna be any different.”

UFC 236 takes place on April 13, in Atlanta, Ga.


MUST-READ STORIES

Shade. Darren Till unsure about fighting Ben Askren next: ‘He needs to work his way up’.

Black Beast. Coach: Derrick Lewis had knee injury ahead of Junior dos Santos bout, ‘could not train’.

Call out. Santiago Ponzinibbio done waiting for Rafael dos Anjos, calls out Tyron Woodley.

Bloodbath. ‘It’s going to be a bloodbath’: Molly McCann on UFC London bout with Priscila Cachoeira.

Inception. Fan that Conor McGregor allegedly stole phone from tells his side of what happened.


VIDEO STEW

The A-Side MMA Live Chat.

Mixed Moll Whopper coming with some new style.

An inside look at Gunnar’s final training session.

Till’s open workout.

Masvidal fan Q&A. Has a really good line about Yoel in there.


LISTEN UP

Heavy Hands. Breaking down the best fights at UFC London this weekend.

Obviously Fight Talk. Previewing UFC London plus an interview with Danny Henry.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Recovering.

At this point, doesn’t seem like Tony is getting the shot.

Ben has the beef.

This is so damn dumb and a lot of people have been talking about it for a long time.

Among the worst possible resolutions to this “problem”.

He’s mad.

Johnny Walker recovering.

Seems like Cejudo is gonna get his bantamweight shot. So much for saving the flyweight division.

Nina understands the tragedy.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Anatoly Tokov (27-2) vs. Gerald Harris (25-7-1); Bellator 218, March 22.

Vladimir Tokov (3-0) vs. Ryan Walker (7-4); Bellator 218, March 22.

Ray Borg (11-3) vs. Kyler Phillips (6-1); UFC on ESPN 2, March 30.

Kevin Holland (14-4) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (29-10); UFC on ESPN 2, March 30.


TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

2014: Pat Curran submitted Daniel Straus with 14 seconds left in the fight to reclaim the Bellator featherweight title at Bellator 112.

2015: Rafael dos Anjos won the UFC lightweight title, dominating Anthony Pettis over five rounds at UFC 185. This night also saw Joanna Jedrzejczyk begin her strawweight title reign, knocking out Carla Esparza in the second round.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Another quote from Izzy from that interview, this one in reference to Conor’s recent arrest:

“With the Conor situation, I don’t know, but I don’t give a f*ck. Look, if you see Jon Jones doing a line or a picogram somewhere, don’t f*cking run up on him trying to take photos. Because guess what, if he spinning elbows you in the face, you deserve it.”

We do not deserve this man.

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL


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