Robert Whittaker came into UFC 271 last night (Sat., Feb. 12, 2022) with the goal of redeeming himself after a bad loss to Israel Adesanya in 2019, one that left him unconscious on the canvas and cost him his Middleweight belt. And while he didn’t manage to defeat Adesanya in the eyes of the Texas judges (see scorecard here), he takes some solace in the idea that he won in his own eyes.
“I thought I did enough ... I thought I did enough,” Whittaker said at the UFC 271 post-fight press conference. “Breaking it down, I think I lost the first round. Put myself back together, I think I beat him to every punch, got takedowns. Thought I did enough.
“But, it is what it is, that’s how work goes in the office,” he continued. “So ... I’m going to go back, evolve some more, get better. Fine tune the things that I’ve been working on and come back a better man.”
Whittaker had clearly made the rematch with Adesanya his big goal over the past 2.5 years. He almost seemed happy to have it behind him.
“Honestly, at the moment, Izzy was my biggest obstacle, he was my biggest hurdle,” he said. “He beat me in a good fashion the first time. So I’ve been working and angling myself to evolve, to get better, and I’ve done that. and you can see in this fight that I had with him how far I’ve come. To the point where I thought I beat him. So I’m excited. I’m excited for the future. The ceiling is nowhere in sight. There is no ceiling for me, I don’t believe. Yeah, that’s how I feel.”
It probably helps that he expects Adesanya to still be there at the top in another year or so, ready for yet another rematch.
“I don’t see anyone else getting close to beating him,” Whittaker said. “He’s a phenomenal fighter, has good eyes, good timing, and his physical makeup just makes him dangerous. He’s been gifted with a good set. But honestly I thought he looked very beatable. I thought I beat him. I thought I did enough. I got inside his reach, I beat him to every punch. He didn’t land anything that really hurt me, he got me with that one shot in the first. But, yeah ... yeah.
“Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want it popping up in a highlight reel screaming, ‘Rob thinks he won,’ blah blah blah blah blah,” he continued. “I’m not taking anything away from him. He won. He literally won. He’s got the belt, that’s how it works. The judges gave it to him, that’s the game, that’s the business.”
“I have nothing but respect for his skillset and I’m proud of myself for getting back on the horse after that first loss, putting myself together the way that I did and getting back in there and taking it to him again. I don’t think there are a lot of people who could have done that. And like I said, I do think I did enough.
“A third fight between me and Izzy is inevitable,” he added. “It’s inevitable. Because I’m going to stomp anyone that comes in front of me again and he knows that too, that’s why he said ‘I’ll be seeing you in the future.’ And I don’t see him losing the belt any time soon. He’s good. He is good. I think I am the person to beat him, and my mission stays the same: beat the next guy in front of me.”
“There’s obvious people I have to fight first, the people who I haven’t already beaten in the top 10,” he concluded. “And surely that puts me in the position to fight for the title again, especially considering how close this one was. And let’s be honest, there aren’t a lot of people in the top ten that I haven’t had it over.
“So I dunno, I haven’t really thought about it,” he concluded. “I’m thinking more about going home to my family and just cruising, having Christmas for a bit. Then getting back to the drawing board with the team, and then the next fight is the next fight.”
What do you think, Maniacs — excited for the possibility of Adesanya vs. Whittaker 3 sometime in the near future?
For complete UFC 271: “Adesanya vs. Whittaker” results and play-by-play, click HERE.