Israel Adesanya believes Robert Whittaker will approach their upcoming rematch differently from their first meeting.
Which suits him just fine, because the champion says he plans on doing the exact same thing.
“I’m not going to fight him the way I fought him the first time, and I know he’s not going to fight me the way he fought me the first time,” Adesanya said, speaking to Combat TV. “He’s a silly boy. If he thinks he has someone else’s blueprint to beat me, he’s a silly man. But his team’s smart, so that’s why I take him seriously. It’s because of his team. He, himself, he’s a silly boy.”
In Adesanya’s mind, Whittaker will no doubt try to mix it up with some grappling — something Adesanya welcomes and anticipates as a surprising moment for his challenger.
“Rob’s going to be in shock,” Adesanya said. “He’s going to be in for a rude awakening is when he feels me because the first time we didn’t clinch. I hope to clinch with him this time because every time they do it and they realize, ‘Oh he’s a lot stronger than..’ they all say that. They think they know how strong I am until they feel me, then they’re like, ‘Oh shit, he’s got that R-Word strength.”
It would be understandable for some to lack motivation in facing an opponent they’d already defeated in spectacular fashion. For Adesanya, however, it’s exactly that which keeps him motivated.
“For me, not so hard,” Adesanya said. “I won’t even say more difficult, but there’s a – because everybody expects me to wash this guy, same way everyone expected me to wash (Marvin) Vettori. So it’s the pressure I put on myself that I have to dominate in every facet of this fight. Grappling, standup, against the fence, in the clinch, anywhere the fight goes. So I put that pressure on myself because I expect better of myself, and I want to make sure I show out even better than the first time I faced the opponent.”