If Robert Whittaker wins at UFC 254 on Sunday, Dana White knows a conversation is coming.
But not with Bobby Knuckles.
No, his chat will be with middleweight king Israel Adesanya.
Because Izzy … well, even the UFC president concedes he seems uninterested in re-matching Australia’s first ever champ.
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With the New Zealand superstar instead hyping potential fights with the likes of Jon Jones, Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, even UFC light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz.
When Whittaker fought Till in July, Adesanya said he wanted the Englishman next.
Just as he is now promising the same for the Aussie’s latest rival.
Robert Whittaker lost his middleweight title to Israel Adesanya in Melbourne. Picture: AAP/Michael DodgeSource:AAP
Yet if Whittaker beats Cannonier on NRL Grand Final Day, he again becomes the No.1 contender for that belt he lost to Adesanya last October – via second round KO.
So how does White make the champ take a fight he seemingly doesn’t want?
“It’s not that I think Izzy doesn’t want to fight Rob Whittaker,” White told The Daily Telegraph from Abu Dhabi’s Fight island on Thursday.
“The guy has no problem taking fights.
“He wanted Yoel Romero when he didn’t have to fight him.
“But with Rob, he’s looking at it like ‘I already beat this guy’.
“And that fight (at UFC 243) it wasn’t a tough fight or a war, it wasn’t a close fight.”
So how do you get him excited for a Whittaker rematch then?
“I don’t think Izzy’s looking at it the right way,” White said simply. “But if Rob wins this weekend, I will explain it to him.”
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Understandably, White won’t reveal details of exactly how that conversation will go.
But know he will be telling Adesanya the title rematch isn’t only massive in Australia or New Zealand, “but globally”.
“Although a lot depends on how Rob looks against Cannonier this weekend,“ the UFC boss continued. “But if he wins, and looks fantastic doing it, then it definitely makes the Adesanya fight even more viable.
“So we just have to see how the fight plays out.
“But right now, the problem Adesanya has is the best problem you can have in the sport — there are so many options for him.
“It’s an incredible problem to have.”
Dana White will talk Adesanya into a title rematch with Rob Whittaker. Picture: Logan Riely/GETTY/AFPSource:AFP
White also praised the ongoing resurrection of Whittaker, who has completely overhauled his lifestyle — and training program — since suffering a breakdown in the Wana sand dunes while training on Christmas Day last year.
The fighting father-of-three, who has since admitted to being burned out before even the Adesanya fight, initially took some time away from the sport before returning to earn a decision win over Till.
“And I love it,“ White said. “When you talk about people having their priorities straight, nobody has them straighter than Robert Whittaker.
“The fact he took that time off, did what he needed to do personally, and now has this reborn love of fighting, I absolutely love it.”
Originally published asDana will force Adesanya into fight he doesn’t want
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