Since winning the UFC interim middleweight title in July of 2017, Robert Whittaker’s greatest enemy has been his own body. A knee injury sustained against Yoel Romero sidelined him for several months. Title defenses at UFC 221 and UFC 224 would end up falling apart, the first due to a staph infection and the second after Whittaker underwent emergency surgery on fight day for a collapsed bowel.
Whittaker is still recovering from that surgery, with the UFC hoping to put him against new interim middleweight champ Israel Adesanya in September. And while “Bobby Knuckles” is clearly focused on the challenge Adesanya represents, he also took some time in a new interview with Submission Radio to call out UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.
“He’s kind of cleaned out his division,” Whittaker said. “It’s one of those things, like, yeah, we’ll have to wait and see. I’m gonna fight Adesanya, then I’ll be a little free myself. I’d definitely move up, not down. But if he’s looking for opponents, that’s a fight, that’s a great fight.”
Whittaker didn’t hesitate when asked point blank if Jon Jones was a fight he wanted.
“Yeah man, why not,” he said. “I think I could just give him a run for his money. I surprise a lot of people and I’m full of tricks, and I think the intensity I bring into a fight is something that a lot of people aren’t prepared for. But he’s a great fighter, he’s super, super dangerous. I’m under no illusion how hard it would be, and yeah, I think it would be fun.”
First things first though: cleaning out the remaining contenders that have built up since the division started getting logjammed in 2017. Then-champ Michael Bisping took a year off to wait for a Georges St-Pierre superfight, and then GSP had to give up the belt after colitis pushed him back into retirement. Since then it’s been Whittaker injury after Whittaker injury.
“Well, while I was making my run through the middleweight division and fighting in the division, it was very hard for me to plan outside of the division,” he said. “Obviously, all my focus has been on the division and doing work there and making waves and making moves there. But seeing Jon Jones looking for opponents and then idea of moving up, I don’t hate that idea.”
As for how Whittaker thinks Adesanya would fare against Jones?
“I think Jon Jones would kill him,” he said with a laugh. “Yeah, I think it’s silly, but then Israel just kind of take jabs and bites out of everyone, doesn’t he? Yeah, he’s got a big mouth.”