While many were hoping the rematch between Australia’s Robert Whittaker and the reigning middleweight champion in New Zealand’s Israel Adesanya would finally occur in January, reports are now indicating the blockbuster title fight has been delayed until February 2022 at UFC 271.
Whittaker’s agent Titus Day recently confirmed the rumour while speaking to News Corp. The major roadblock involves Adesanya’s inability to re-enter New Zealand in light of the nation’s current COVID-19 restrictions; in tandem with the champ’s request that the coming hostilities be hosted on home soil, overruling UFC President Dana White’s desire to get the show going stateside at UFC 268. For reference, Adesanya’s City Kickboxing teammates – Dan Hooker, Brad Riddell, Kai Kara-France – are also competing abroad in the next few months and have not been guaranteed re-entry.
“UFC 271 is now the most likely date… very likely, in fact,“ explains Titus Day.
“And we’ve told the UFC to send the contracts. Rob is ready to go. He can fight December, January, February… he’s in great shape and ready to go.”
The world of combat sports has been eager for a rematch between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker since the former claimed the middleweight world title via TKO at UFC 243. And when you consider Whittaker’s epic comeback trail, Adesanya’s (failed) experiment in the light heavyweight division, and everything else in between, The Reaper seems more than ready to reclaim his crown.
Speaking in regards to Adesanya’s middleweight title defence against Italian contender Marvin Vettori at UFC 263, Whittaker didn’t mince his words about his performance.
“Watching that fight against Vettori, you can see he’s not untouchable,” says Robert Whittaker.
“It reinforced the fact that he’s very human. Very touchable. I actually thought his performance was average. Not average in the context of being bad. He never did anything more than what he had to do. He didn’t do anything flashy. He didn’t do anything more than necessary. Which is a good approach.”
“But it certainly doesn’t put you in the realm of the gods. He’s definitely not a god. He’s a very good fighter, sure. But he’s not as good as he thinks he is.”
Prior to Vettori II, Israel Adesanya recorded his first professional loss at the hands of UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jan Blachowicz. After failing to make an impact with his striking, The Last Stylebender’s limited grappling was exposed, giving his Polish adversary the win via unanimous decision.
In contrast, Robert Whittaker appears to be in the form of his life. Returning as a more calculating and precise evolution of himself since the prolific loss in Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium, the local MMA talent and fan favourite put on a masterclass against Darren Till during a UFC Fight Night, completely dismantled Jared Cannonier during UFC 254, and made a grim example out of Kelvin Gastelum soon after. Somewhere during his epic comeback trail, the great man himself also delayed the Cannonier bout to donate some much-needed bone marrow towards his daughter Lilliana.
At the time of this writing, UFC 271 is scheduled for February 13th of 2022.