UFC 243: Robert Whittaker Outlines Why He’s “Not Looking to Finish” Israel Adesanya

Robert Whittaker understands that Israel Adesanya is a talented and dangerous fighter, but the middleweight champ plans to see if "The Last Stylebender" can work his way out of the "trenches".

Robert Whittakerhas been tasked with handing Israel Adesanya his first professional loss in MMA at UFC 243 tomorrow night. It looks like the middleweight champ believes the best way to do that, is to draw the vaunted striker into an extended war.

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Adesanya’s rise

Adesanya has been booked to fight the champion after “The Last Stylebender” won the interim 185 title this past April, by handing Kelvin Gastelum a decision loss. With that victory, Adesanya moved his overall record to 17-0, and his UFC record to 6-0. He also further established himself as the one of the fastest rising commodities in combat sports.

Whittaker’s take on Adesanya

Earlier this year, Whittaker didn’t outright trash the abilities of Adesanya, but he did argue that the vaunted striker is “hittable”, that he doesn’t like getting hit, and that he holes in his game. As UFC 243 has approached, Whittaker has been relatively reserved while talking about Adesanya. But, recently he had this to say about the rising star and how he plans to defeat Adesanya (quotes via MMA Junkie):

“I think (Adesanya) is super deadly,” Whittaker said. “I think he’s a very talented and great fighter, but hell, I’m still up-and-coming, you know? I’m not going anywhere, anytime soon.

“Honestly, I am more excited for how I come out of this fight, for the work that I’ll put in after this fight to the fighter that I’m going to become from this fight, because every year, I’m getting better. Every year, I have harder fights, and I’ve got a lot of years left in me.”

“…I don’t think he’s going to be able to withstand the heat that I bring – and I’m not looking to finish him; I’m looking to drag this into a five-round war. I’m going to drag him into the trenches.

“I’m going to do what Gastelum did, but better. Let’s see if he wants to leave early.”

When you consider the abilities of Adesanya, and how athletic and dangerous he is, this certainly sounds like a solid plan on paper. Turn the fight into a grinding, tiring affair, rather than attempt to trade blows toe-to-toe.

You also have to really wonder if we’re going to see Whittaker’s offensive wrestling come into play. To date, we haven’t seen much from Whittaker in that respect.

But, he has been training his wrestling extensively in recent years. So much so, he made Australia’s wrestling team for the Commonwealth Games, but couldn’t compete since he was booked to fight Yoel Romero later in the year. Recently Whittaker’s jiu-jitsu coach, Alex Prates, said we could see the champ’s offensive wrestling game at UFC 243.

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