Former UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker has named the only contender who makes sense as his next opponent inside the Octagon.
Whittaker has firmly cemented himself as one of the top-two 185lbers in the UFC. Unfortunately for him, the other man in that equation, reigning titleholder Israel Adesanya, has defeated him twice.
At UFC 271 last month, “The Reaper,” who lost the gold to Adesanya in 2019, had his chance for redemption. He got there by rebounding with three straight victories over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, and Kelvin Gastelum.
Despite going five rounds with “The Last Stylebender” and with some in the MMA community scoring the fight in his favor, Whittaker fell on the wrong side of a unanimous decision verdict inside Houston’s Toyota Center.
While his first loss to Adesanya left him demotivated and considering calling quits on his in-cage career, Whittaker’s response to his second setback against the champ has been the opposite.
Having maintained a positive attitude post-fight and in recent interviews, it’s clear Whittaker is eager to fight his way back to contention and secure an “inevitable” trilogy against his Nigerian-New Zealand middleweight counterpart.
To do so, he’s got his sights set on a fellow top-five contender.
Whittaker Has An Italian Dream
During a recent interview with CBS Sports’ Shakiel Mahjouri, Whittaker named #3-ranked middleweight Marvin Vettori as “the only fight that makes sense,” not just for him, but for “The Italian Dream” as well.
“I think my guys are talking. I think that’s the next fight. That’s really the only guy in the top five that I haven’t fought,” said Whittaker. “I think that’s on the agenda. Realistically, it’s the only fight that makes sense for both of us. It’s funny, me and him both have a lot in common, we’re both chasing the third fight with Adesanya. If I can get two fights this year, that would be great. That hits my quota quite well.” (h/t CBS Sports)
Vettori was most recently in action in the UFC Vegas 41 headliner last October. Having fallen short of the 185-pound throne four months prior at UFC 263, where he suffered a second loss to Adesanya, the 28-year-old was hoping to rebound in style.
Against Paulo Costa, who arrived to fight week overweight and forced a switch to light heavyweight, Vettori certainly did so. After a five-round war, the Trento native was awarded the unanimous decision verdict. In doing so, he remained in the title conversation and moved closer to a potential third scrap with the middleweight king.
While the matchup makes sense in the context of the division, Whittaker and Vettori also have a number of things in common, like “The Reaper” said. Both have suffered two losses to Adesanya, took the champ to a five-round decision in their respective rematches, and thought they’d won.
Sounds like a match made in middleweight heaven.
Would you like to see Robert Whittaker face Marvin Vettori next?