Robert Whittaker will enjoy the hometown advantage when he meets Israel Adesanya in a Middleweight title unification fight this Saturday (Oct. 5, 2019) at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia. The pay-per-view (PPV) event is set to go down inside the 53,000-seat Marvel Stadium, which will accommodate more than that for a UFC event. According to Adesanya, the only reason UFC pulled the trigger on staging the title fight in such a big arena was because of his draw, not that of the hometown champion’s.
“If it was Rob or anyone else … it could be Robert/Romero part 3, it could be Rob and Chris Weidman, it could be Rob and anyone else, it would not be at Marvel Stadium,” Adesanya told Submission Radio (via MMA News). “It would not be in that kind of an echelon, that kind of a capacity, because it’s just Rob. But at the same time, this is me.”
Not shy on confidence, “The Last Stylebender” — who hails from New Zealand — says he is the one who has been doing the work to shine light on the event — and the sport — in Australia.
“We have to just be honest — we can’t just lie about it,” Adesanya said. “I’ve been the one pushing the culture forward for fighting down here with my team. And he, unfortunately, hasn’t been because, unfortunately, he’s been pulling out sick.”
Indeed, Adesanya hasn’t been shy in calling out Whittaker for pulling out of big fights because of illness or injury. And that is just another reason Adesanya claims he is getting a bigger payday than the champ for the event.
“And that’s OK. I called in sick back in my old job once in a while. I know the vibes. But, yeah, I’m the one pushing the culture forward, so let’s put it this way: if it was anyone else with Rob, it would not be in Marvel stadium. It wouldn’t sell out the way it has been. But because it’s me, that’s why.
“There’s a reason why I’m getting paid more than him, substantially more than him,” Adesanya continued. “There’s a reason why my stock is much higher than him.”
That said, Adesanya still has to deliver on fight night, which is no easy task against a man who is undefeated (9-0) at Middleweight, beating some of the best the division has to offer along the way.
To see the entire UFC 243: “Whittaker vs. Adesanya” fight card click here.