It’s not that Israel Adesanya is looking past Robert Whittaker, it’s just that he’s refusing to make him the be all and end all goal for his mixed martial arts career.
Adesanya and Whittaker meet this weekend in Melbourne, Australia in one of the most anticipated fights of the year as they battle to see who is the undisputed middleweight champion of the world.
Should Adesanya win, he could well be one of the biggest break out stars in recent memory. To avoid the pitfalls of success that come with that territory, he’s already making his journey to be about the greatness of it in itself, rather than about the awards he gets with victory.
Take Whittaker this weekend, for instance. Adesanya is adamant it’s a fight no bigger or more important than the last one he took.
“[Whittaker is] not even the goal,” Adesanya said. “It’s like a video game, you play video games where you play the boss, he’s just one boss along the way that I have to beat, so I’m going to get past him and get into the next little minions you have to beat until you get to the next boss.”
But then, if we’re talking video game analogies, could there be a big, bad, ultimate boss lurking in the division above Adesanya? A certain man by the name of Jon Jones?
“I wouldn’t say ultimate, but he’s definitely a boss on the game that I want to play against,” Adesanya said.
Then, without provocation, the interim middleweight champion shared a visualisation he’s already had for the future.
“Raiders Stadium, Las Vegas. That’s where it’s going to happen. I decided in July when I was in Vegas,” he said. “Probably — the middleweight divisions getting stacked, I like Cannonier right now. Costa, I got to take care of, and a few others — I’m saying 2021. Probably early, yeah, because the way I fight, six fights in 18 months. I’ve just had a long break, I beat [Whittaker] in the first, second round. I get another fight straight away [and so on].