There’s a lot of questions being asked about what will happen with the middleweight division as 185 pound champion Israel Adesanya moves up to light heavyweight to challenge 205 pound champ Jan Blachowicz in March. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a clear intention from all parties involved to make an Adesanya vs. Jones superfight happen in 2021. So … good luck, middleweight challengers?
It’s not the worst situation in the world. Adesanya did a pretty good job of stomping down on the middleweight top five before turning his sights upwards. There was talk of Jared Cannonier being a solid contender for Izzy, but then Robert Whittaker slapped him back down at UFC 254. That briefly had UFC president Dana White stumping for Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2 on the strength of the interest it would generate in Australia / New Zealand.
But that desire within White has apparently passed.
“I don’t think he’s going to get a title shot next,” White said during an ESPN+ Q&A (via MMA Junkie). “He’ll have to fight somebody else first. It’s going to depend on what happens with Israel and Jan. We’ll see what happens.”
Whittaker has never seemed too bothered with the possibility of more fights before re-facing Adesanya, who knocked him out when they fought in October of 2019.
“Uuuuuh yeah, he’s a tough fight, man!” Whittaker said with a laugh after his win over Cannonier. “I’m not stoked to fight him. He’s a hard fight, he’s so good. And he only looked better in his last fight. And the fact that he beat me once already!”
That quote seems to have cost Whittaker the undisputed challenger spot in White’s mind, even though Robert was joking around at the time and followed it up with this.
“But I feel like I’ve got a couple tricks I can roll out,” he continued. “I feel like I can play it differently this time. And honestly, I know he’s trying to do everything else and good on him to do that. I’m not thinking about him. Maybe he can think about it a little bit, he can go up to light heavyweight or heavyweight. Whatever he wants to do, doesn’t bother me. My plans are Christmas, my baby, and then hopefully our timelines line up then.”
Well, they won’t line up in March, that’s for sure now. But it does line things up for another #1 contender fight for Whittaker sometime in Spring, and then who knows? Unlike Jon Jones, Adesanya isn’t packing on the pounds for his move up, so if a worthy contender at 185 emerges, there’s always a chance he could step back down to defend his middleweight title.
This article was originally published on www.mmamania.com