Israel Adesanya admits he wanted to fight Robert Whittaker, but insists he is still living ‘rent free’ inside Marvin Vettori’s head.
Adesanya will defend his UFC middleweight title in a rematch against Vettori in the main event of UFC 263 on June 12 at a location to be announced.
Most UFC fans had been hoping that the promotion would book Adesanya to face Robert Whittaker next, but “The Reaper” apparently had other plans, sources said.
Adesanya managed to get under the skin of “The Italian Dream” to great effect ahead of their first meeting at UFC on FOX 9, and “The Last Stylebender” believes he is repeating the same trick once again.
“I wanted to fight Rob after I’d seen him with Kelvin,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel. “Marvin was like, ‘I want to go in October.’ Rob was like, ‘I want to go in September.’ I’m like, ‘Look, I’m going in June. Whoever wants it, step up,’ and yeah, the Italian stepped up, so kudos to him.”
“Kamaru [Usman] just gave him a little taste of what it’s like when you already know the person,” he added. “You know you have their number, and he’s still holding onto that f****** single leg, like he’s holding onto that loss. So proud of that loss. He’s holding onto that loss better than his best wins, so I’m in his head, rent free, camping.”
Adesanya (20-1) is one of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster. The Nigerian-born New Zealander suffered the first loss of his professional mixed martial arts career against UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz (28-8) earlier this year at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Adesanya, 31, owns stoppage wins over the likes of Whittaker, Derek Brunson and Paulo Costa. The latter occurred at 3:59 of the second round in the main event of UFC 253 on Fight Island.
Meanwhile Vettori (17-4-1), 27, is currently riding a five-fight winning streak. Vettori defeated Kevin Holland by unanimous decision at UFC on ABC 2 at the start of the month, but Holland came in on just nine days’ notice after Darren Till, Vettori’s original opponent for the card, was forced to withdraw because of a broken collarbone.