Israel Adesanya: Robert Whittaker admits he let his anger get the better of him in their first fight

  • Tom Ward
Robert Whittaker admits he let his anger get the better of him against Israel Adesanya

Robert Whittaker has admitted he let his emotions get the better of him in his first fight with Israel Adesanya, which is something he will be looking to change in their rematch. 

The former UFC middleweight champion will throw down with the Last Stylebender on February 12 in the main event of UFC 271 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. 

It will be the second time the pair have met since their clash at UFC 243 three years ago, which Adesanya won via a devastating second-round TKO.

Whittaker, 31, confessed that his hatred towards Adesanya influenced his gameplan going into the fight, resulting in him charging in like a headless chicken only to be caught by a perfectly-timed counterpunch. 

“I got in my own head so much and I had so much grudge towards him and gripe that I wore myself out,” Whittaker told MMA Fighting.

“I had so much anger and hate, and I wore myself out.

“It got tiring being angry at him, and for no real reason. It’s not like he came to my house and stole my TV.

Robert Whittaker will renew his rivalry with Israel Adesanya in the main event of UFC 271 on February 12

“You can see how of out of the ordinary I fought. How reckless, if you would, how I fought.

“I guess that’s the biggest regret I would have in that fight. I wish I fought like myself. I’m not satisfied with that.”

Defeat to his fellow Kiwi Adesanya saw Whittaker go back to the drawing board as he revealed he had to do ‘a big chunk of soul-searching’.

And the fighting pride of New South Wales is determined to put right the wrongs in their rubber match. 

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The New Zealand-born Australian added: “After the first loss, I had a big chunk of soul-searching and trying to understand myself and my own headspace.

“That kind of set the foundation for everything else I can do. I get in my own head and try to dissect things to try and make things in my life easier, ever since that first loss.

“I find that if you focus on these little obstacles or why you’re feeling like this, you literally can make it better, and it makes the whole process easier.

“I got over it. Honestly, once I let that go, I started seeing him like everybody else. I don’t hate the guy anymore. If anything, I respect his skill sets.

“I respect him just doing his thing. That’s the thing. While I think his behaviour’s a little [out there] sometimes, he’s staying true to it.

“He’s still doing it. He’s just him. I guess that’s the long answer: I don’t hate the guy.”

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