UFC 271: Robert Whittaker embraces underdog role ahead of Israel Adesanya rematch

  • Tom Ward
Robert Whittaker embracing underdog role vs Israel Adesanya

Robert Whittaker is embracing the underdog role ahead of his rematch with Israel Adesanya at UFC 271.

Adesanya (21-1), who is the UFC middleweight champion, will be making the fourth defence of the 185lbs title he has held since October 2019.

The New Zealander claimed the coveted gold-plated strap with a second-round TKO win over ‘The Reaper’ at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to silence the home crowd.  

Since then, Adesanya has gone on a remarkable run of form over the past couple of years, cementing his status as one of the best MMA fighters in the world.

His Australian counterpart, meanwhile, has worked his way back into the title picture by stringing together a trio of convincing wins over Jared Cannonier, Kelvin Gastelum and Darren Till.

There is no doubt Whittaker knows better than most the risk fighting someone like Adesanya brings.

After all, there is a reason he is as much as a +210 underdog with some bookmakers according to the latest odds. 

Robert Whittaker is the former UFC middleweight champion

But he is confident he can spring the upset when they come face-to-face for the second time at the Toyota Center in Houston on February 12.

Whittaker told UNIBET: “I’m the underdog moving into this rematch with Adesanya.

“[It] makes sense, you know. He already beat me once. He’s the current champ.

“He’s sitting at the high horse and he beat me the first time. It definitely takes some of the pressure off, being the underdog.

Israel Adesanya is the current UFC middleweight champion

“No one expects me to win. No one expects me to go over there and dethrone him after he beat me already. Throughout my whole career, I’ve loved being the underdog.

“I love getting in there and defying the odds. I like going in there and proving people wrong. It gives me that little bit of extra edge.”

Like Adesanya, Whittaker is also looking forward to showing off some new tricks he has been working on in his training camp. 

He added: “As a fighter, I’ve changed plenty because you can see I’m trying to incorporate new angles into my game.

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“I’m not the same guy I was then. I’m utilizing a more complete skill set. Most importantly is outside of the octagon.

“I’m not the same guy I was then. I’m much more at grips with who I am, why I do things, why I train, why I want to win.

“The most important thing is just winning. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a belt or not. It’s about winning.”

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