Say it quietly, but Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker could be on the cusp of a special rivalry.
This Saturday in Atlanta, the middleweight from New Zealand faces Kelvin Gastelum for the interim 185-pound championship. The winner will move on to face Whittaker later this year, and should it prove to be Adesanya who walks out the victor, his fight with Whittaker could turn into something impressive.
While the two are mostly cordial through the media with each other, today Adesanya let something resembling frustration towards the champion out, pointing to Whittaker’s inactivity since winning the world title.
“I’ve been the champion since day one, since I got here,” Adesanya said, speaking on The Ariel Helwani MMA Show. “A lot of people didn’t believe me, but that wasn’t my business, I believed me. I just have to prove me right because I always believed I was the champion, interim or not. … Dude, [Whittaker] has fought twice in three years. Imagine me as champion in three years what I could do. My first year look what I did in UFC. Imagine me in three years what I could do.
“And I actually work, I actually show up to work. And I actually, even though I don’t like it all the time, I actually get all the media shit done. I actually perform.
“So yeah, he can be all like, ‘I’m not here to talk, I’m here to fight’. Get the fuck out of here. This is part of the game, this is how you become immortal in this game. So I am doing my part and that’s all I care about. He can stay over there and do that part.”