UFC 271: Israel Adesanya warns Robert Whittaker 'he isn’t the only one evolving’

  • Tom Ward

Israel Adesanya has warned Robert Whittaker ‘I’m not the same fighter either’ ahead of their rematch.

The Last Stylebender will be back in action this weekend when he faces Whittaker at UFC 271 on February 12 at Houston’s Toyota Center.

Whittaker, 31, has worked hard to reinvent himself following his defeat to Adesanya in October 2019.

However, Adesanya says he doesn’t see it that way, as he insists ‘it’s not as drastic as people are saying’.

When asked about Whittaker’s improvements to his striking game, he told FOX Sports: “There are changes, but it’s not as drastic as people are saying.

“And he’s not going to strike with me.

“So come this weekend, I’ll look forward to the grapple, to the scramble, because he’ll be surprised there as well.

“I saw a clip recently where he said ‘I’m not the same Robert as 2019’.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – JUNE 12: Israel Adesanya of Nigeria prepares to fight Marvin Vettori of Italy during their UFC 263 middleweight championship match at Gila River Arena on June 12, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona.

“But I’m not the same fighter, either.

“He isn’t the only one evolving. I’m evolving too – and rapidly.

“So he isn’t special in that facet.

“There are levels to this game and people are about to see what those levels are.”

Adesanya, 32, recently claimed Whittaker is in for a rude awakening if he tries to copy Jan Blachowicz.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 06: The refereee stops the bout between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker during UFC 243 at Marvel Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

During an interview with Stake.com, he said: “My prediction is that I am going to f*** Whittaker up, again.

“He can’t stand with me, so I know he will be forced to grapple.

“Last time he said Kevin Gastelum has given the blueprint on how to beat Adesanya,’ and now he’s saying ‘Jan has given the blueprint’…. he needs to write his own blueprint.

“If he wants to copy someone else’s work, then by all means try, because it went so well last time for him when we fought.

“Whittaker may have learnt from his mistakes from last time for maybe a round or so, but then trust me, he will revert back to those errors.

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“Once he feels what he felt last time, he won’t know where to turn. Also, he didn’t even grapple with me last time, he didn’t really feel me. You can ask any of my previous opponents, they will tell you.

“So once he feels me in a grapple, then he will get shook again.”

Adesanya has been linked to a fight against the UFC’s pound-for-pound king Kamaru Usman – with Usman’s manager Ali Abdelaziz insisting ‘it makes a lot of sense’.

But the former kickboxer is also eyeing a return to the light heavyweight division in the future.

He added: “When I beat Whittaker, I honestly don’t have any immediate plan on what to do next.

“I am just going to keep doing what I am doing at 185, line them up and knock them down.

“And once I’ve lapped the division on my terms, then I might step up and do another side mission at a different weight.”

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