The UFC’s middleweight championship picture is somewhat cloudy right now, following Robert Whittaker’s withdrawal from UFC 234. But, one thing is certain in the mind of Israel Adesanya: he’s fighting for the belt next.
UFC 234 was set up to be a middleweight, championship tourney in a way. The champion Whittaker was supposed to fight Kelvin Gastelum, and Adesanya faced Anderson Silva in a title shot eliminator. But, yesterday the MMA world was delivered a huge shock when it was announced that Whittaker had been forced out of the card due to a hernia.
As you surely know, Adesanya went on to outscore Silva in the card’s new headliner and won via unanimous decision. But, we don’t know right now what the plan is for the 185 belt. Is the UFC going to rebook Whittaker – Gastelum? Could an interim title be put up for grabs? Depending on how long the champ is going to be out?
Well, during the post-fight press conference last night, Adesanya made it clear he’s waiting for a title shot (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“In the long term, I’m the No. 1 contender,” Adesanya said. “I’m the guy fighting for the belt. I don’t care. Kelvin or Rob, whoever it is. I’m fighting for the belt. Whoever has the belt, because I see Kelvin walking around with that belt and I don’t know who gave it to him. I’m fighting for the belt next — that’s all I know. I did my job, I showed up to work.”
“I can wait for however long I need to, because I’ve done so much for the company. I’ve played my part. And I’m the No. 1 contender. ‘Jacare’ [Souza] can fight Kelvin. Oh, they already fought already. Get a rematch — I don’t care. I showed up to work, that’s all I know.”
Adesanya was also asked to weigh-in on Gastelum’s claim that if this was wrestling, he’d be the middleweight champ since he showed up to fight etc. The middleweight was even walking around with a belt (although, it was reportedly Henry Cejudo’s). “The Last Style Bender” admitted that Gastelum has a point, and that he can wait for the winner of Whittaker – Gastelum.
So, it will be really interesting to see what unfolds here. If Whittaker is ready to fight in the not too distant future, then you would think a bout with Gastelum will be rescheduled. There’s already some speculation, however, as to whether the UFC might look at Whittaker – Adesanya next. The argument being that fight’s bigger, particularly if you had it take place in Australia or New Zealand, than Whittaker – Adesanya.