Reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya retained his 185-pound belt by turning away former division titleholder Robert Whittaker in the UFC 271 pay-per-view (PPV) main event last Sat. night (Feb. 12, 2021) inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
UFC lightweight contender “Iron” Michael Chandler was not impressed.
“For as dominant as Izzy is, he isn’t overly offensive,” Chandler wrote on Twitter. “We playing a game or are we fighting? Asking for a friend. Touch butt. Trust me, I love Izzy. But we have gotten to a point where a dominant champ just needs to stand there, throw a few shots per round and he will not lose unless he gets caught and he will always get the nod. Izzy got paid on this last contract. Go FIGHT, don’t you dare spar.”
The 32 year-old Adesanya inked a brand new contract with UFC in the weeks leading up to his Whittaker rematch and while no specific amount was listed, his management team called it “one of the most lucrative deals in company history.”
UFC champions typically get paid a flat purse, eliminating the incentive to compete for a win bonus. Not to suggest that Adesanya or any other fighter would be willing to risk their position because the paycheck is the same regardless of outcome, but Chandler believes Adesanya was unwilling to take any chances against Whittaker.
“I’m not advocating ‘banging’ over ‘tactically fighting,’ all I’m trying to advocate for is a spirit of inflicting dominance in the face of danger,” Chandler continued after a firestorm of rebuttals. “Don’t play it safe. Take more chances. I don’t need you to plod forward with reckless abandon but have a little anger in your heart. All in all, UFC 271 was absolutely superb. Thank y’all. See you at the top!”
Adesanya is expected to defend his middleweight title against top contender Jared Cannonier later this year. As for the 22-7 Chandler, who turns 36 in April, he remains unbooked at the time of this writing.