Robert Whittaker Eyes Grappling Exchanges With Israel Adesanya: ‘I Would Love To Get Him On His Back’

    ByRoss Markey

    Jan 10, 2022

    Former UFC middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker has suggested potential grappling exchanges against past-foe and current champion, Israel Adesanya present an interesting factor to the pair’s UFC 271 rematch next month.

    Whittaker, who is in the midst of a three-fight winning run, is set to renew his rivalry with Adesanya at UFC 271 on February 12. – in the hope of avenging a title unification loss to the current gold holder back in October 2019.

    Headlining UFC 243 in Melbourne, Whittaker dropped a second round knockout loss to then-interim middleweight champion, Adesanya – who successfully unified the middleweight championships as a result. 

    Preparing for next month’s rematch with the City Kickboxing standout, Whittaker has admitted that he is eager to test the champion’s defensive grappling and wrestling acumen this time around if the opportunity presents itself.

    “I would love to be able to get him (Israel Adesanya) on his back and to work on the ground,” Robert Whittaker told MMA Junkie reporter, Farah Hannoun. “It’s no secret that the greatest advantage anyone would have with ‘Izzy’ is on his back where he can’t use his long arms and long legs to hit you. It’s no secret.”

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    Adesanya, who will attempt to secure his fourth successful title defense against Whittaker in February, has suffered just one professional mixed martial arts loss in his career; dropping a unanimous decision to former light heavyweight titleholder, Jan Blachowicz in an unsuccessful title siege back in March.

    Finding himself on the wrong side of all three judge’s scorecards, the Nigerian-Kiwi gave up the fourth and fifth round of the headliner at UFC 259 after Blachowicz managed to secure takedowns in both frames, and accumulate significant time in top control.

    And while taking notice of Blachowicz’s success in that area of the fight, Whittaker maintained that his striking speaks for itself to boot.

    “Am I going to focus on just that (grappling)? That’s anybody’s guess because no, I can strike with the best of them, as well, so if an opportunity presents itself – I guess my whole headspace is just, utilize the tools and the opportunities that I’m given in this fight, and I think that sums it up pretty well,” Robert Whittaker explained. “If I see takedowns, I’ll take them. If I see openings to strike, I’ll take them. Keeping that defense nice and tight. More or less just a little less of what happened in the first fight.”

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    Acknowledging Blachowicz’s success against Adesanya, Whittaker admitted that the blueprint has been provided, but executing to the same success as the Pole is easier said than actually done come fight night.

    “I think Jan (Blachowicz) set a blueprint on how to beat him,” Robert Whittaker said. “But again, I don’t have the same skillsets and tools Jan does. I don’t have that Polish power, nor that Polish head. You know, like he’s a tough guy, so (I’ve) got to utilize what I have. Definitely, we saw that ‘Izzy’ is much less dangerous off his back. Still dangerous, but less dangerous. If I was a strategist, I would be writing down all the points of which Jan utilized to take that win and then putting it in my own.” 

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    Off the back of his 2019 loss to Adesanya, Whittaker has enjoyed a three-fight winning spree over the trio of contenders, Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, and most recently, Kelvin Gastelum – taking unanimous decision victories against each.