“The Reaper” is expected to be the next challenger to Adesanya’s dominant 185-pound reign following Marvin Vettori’s failed attempt to capture the gold at UFC 263.
But despite “The Last Stylebender” comfortably defending his belt against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa and Vettori, Whittaker has expressed his doubts over how good Adesanya really is.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the Australian suggested that there are holes in the champ’s game that he can exploit.
“Watching that fight against Vettori, you can see he’s not untouchable. 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. But he (Adesanya) never did anything more than what he had to do.”
Whittaker added that Adesanya believes that he’s better than he actually is. It’s this level of overconfidence that he hopes will be to his advantage when the pair run it back.
“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.”
The two middleweight stars first met inside the Octagon at UFC 243 in 2019. Israel Adesanya captured the title after knocking out Whittaker in the second round. In doing so, the Nigerian-New Zealander became the first man to defeat “The Reaper” at middleweight and halted his winning streak at nine.
After his comments on Adesanya’s recent defense, it appears their second fight will have an added dose of animosity.
“The Last Stylebender” was quick to respond to the 30-year-old, taking to Twitter to clap back.
Adesanya referenced his KO win over Whittaker and posed the question: “If I’m ‘not as good as I think I am’ then what does that make you?”
The 31-year-old took a page from Jorge Masvidal‘s book in a follow-up tweet.
“I might not be a god to you, but I baptized you #Jezus”
This latest exchange between the pair has certainly added some heat into what was already a blockbuster rematch.
After Whittaker returned home following his last win to recover from injuries and spend time with his family, it stands to reason a rematch with Adesanya will go down later this year.
Do you think Whittaker can dethrone Adesanya?