Robert Whittaker Plays Down Israel Adesanya Fight- Kelvin Gastelum the Only Focus

Published 04/04/2021, 10:39 AM EDT
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 26: (L-R) Robert Whittaker of New Zealand punches Darren Till of England in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 26, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


Robert Whittaker will be making his much-anticipated return to the Octagon later this week. However, this booking hasn’t come without its hiccups. Whittaker was initially supposed to fight Paulo Costa, but COVID had to play spoilsport. Now he is running back his 2019 matchup with Kelvin Gastelum, which never went through.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

However, the chain of events that followed that night led to Israel Adesanya ultimately becoming champion with consecutive wins over both men. Whittaker has the resume of a #1 contender, with two big wins since his loss to Izzy. But he isn’t setting his eyes on the title, but focusing on Kelvin Gastelum, who just ended a three-fight skid.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

“I don’t look past fights, I don’t look past how hard they’re going to be. To simplify it, a win opens up the world for me. It opens up all doors and the world’s my oyster. I just have to try and achieve that.”

Whittaker knows an impressive win here puts him directly in line for a shot against Adesanya. However, Izzy has been less than enthusiastic about rematching Whittaker, so a win here could solidify his case and probably force Adesanya into a matchup. After all, ‘Bobby Knuckles’ is clearly the #1 contender. But only if he wins.

Robert Whittaker: What happened between him, Gastelum, and Adesanya?

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 24: Robert Whittaker of New Zealand poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 24, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum were scheduled to fight before. Whittaker was scheduled to defend his title against Gastelum at UFC 234. However, Whittaker had to pull out the morning of the fight due to injury.

The co-main event for that fight card was Israel Adesanya vs Anderson Silva. The bout headlined the card after Whittaker got hurt. As a result, Gastelum and Adesanya were booked for an interim title fight at UFC 236. Izzy would win that in a ‘Fight of the Year’ contender in 2019.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Adesanya would easily dispatch Whittaker at UFC 238 and become champion. Gastelum has since lost to Darren Till and Jack Hermansson, while Whittaker has beaten Till and Jared Cannonier. KG bounced back with a win over Ian Heinisch, but is out of the title picture right now. But Whittaker can establish his claim with a win this weekend.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT