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Israel Adesanya doesn’t want to wait for Robert Whittaker: ‘Strip him, take the belt off him’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC 234 was supposed to be the event that finally got the middleweight division back on track. Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum was the first full fledged 185 pound title fight since Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre in November of 2017. The event also set up the next #1 contender with a fight between Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva.

Unfortunately, champ Robert Whittaker’s bowel collapsed the night before the event went down ... just more evidence the weight class suffers from some sort of voodoo curse. Israel Adesanya went ahead and beat Anderson Silva via decision, but now he’s stuck waiting not only for Whittaker to recover but for Gastelum to get his shot.

It is not an ideal situation to say the least, and Adesanya was more than willing to present a cut throat solution that would improve his position.

“Honestly, you know when Dominick Cruz kept hurting himself and got surgery after surgery after surgery?” Adesanya asked on the MMA Junkie radio show. “The UFC stripped him, and this is another one of those. This isn’t the first time this has happened or second time with Robert. This is ongoing.”

”He’s hurt, he’s out for much longer and he’s hurt again, then has a fight and is out for this long. You can’t hold up the whole division. My idea is strip him, take the belt off him, and me and Kelvin fight for the real belt. Then when he’s all healed up and 100 percent, he can come see me and challenge for the belt.”

Unfortunately for Adesanya, this situation may be more similar to Dominick Cruz’s than he’d like. The UFC was surprisingly patient when it came to Cruz, which relegated Renan Barao to interim bantamweight champion status for 18 months and two defenses before they finally promoted him to full champion.

Adesanya doesn’t sound too hyped about an interim belt, and why should he with the UFC’s recent habit of disregarding them if not poofing them completely out of existence? But even though Robert Whittaker has proven to be Cruz level unlucky, the UFC seems willing to stand by him after this latest life threatening incident. Which means “The Last Stylebender” will have to choose between an interim title or a long layoff.