Israel Adesanya‘s team is blown away by the fact that Robert Whittaker has turned down a title fight.
Israel Adesanya is coming off a loss to light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259. Despite the loss, while trying to add another championship belt to his mantle, Adesanya is eager to get back in the cage and defend his middleweight title. Many believed that former champion Robert Whittaker would be next, but after he had declined, Marvin Vettori will be the man stepping up. The fact that Whittaker chose not to pursue the title shot is something Adesanya’s coach Eugene Bareman can’t understand.
“For me, it’s a very strange decision,” Bareman said in an interview with The Mac Life. “There are certain things you just don’t turn down, don’t matter what. Don’t matter how much family you got waiting for you. Not trying to be insensitive towards his family and all of that, but there are certain things in this sport, you reach a certain pinnacle that you’ve been reaching and you don’t give them away. If the shoes on the other foot, we’re fighting through — [Adesanya’s] arm’s falling off, all my guys, their arms’ are falling half off, we’re still fighting You make whatever sacrifices are necessary. But Robert, he makes his own decisions, he was given the opportunity as I understand by the UFC, and I guess it’s gone to Vettori.”
Whittaker put up a very dominant performance against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Vegas 24. He showed that he is still one of the best at 185 pounds and although the win put him in the position to vie for his lost title, he chose to decline. Whittaker stated that he was offered the title shot immediately after his win against Gastelum, but he was not ready to have a quick turnaround. Whittaker, who is from Australia, must undergo a two-week quarantine to return home each time. This puts a limit on his training and traveling for fights.
“When you turn down an opportunity like that, just like we know — when you turn down an opportunity like that now you have to sit at the back of the list again,” Bareman added. “Now he goes into the pool again.”
Whittaker is now on a three-fight winning streak since he last lost to Adesanya. He looked better than ever his last time out and will most likely be next for the title after Adesanya battles Vettori in June. He doesn’t seem to mind waiting and could potentially still get that shot without winning another fight.
Do you think Whittaker will be granted another title shot in 2021?