UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker checked out the encounter and says that Adesanya was exploited during UFC 236.
“I think this fight forced him to draw a little bit more out of the tank, a little bit more will power, a little bit more heart,” Whittaker said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show (via Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie). “You can see in the fight his ups and downs. A little bit more trials, a little bit more obstacles he had to get over. The adversity he had to get through to make sure he lasted to the end of the fight. I thought it was an amazing fight from both guys. If you watch the fight you can see the holes that were there from every fight before, they just got exposed bigger. There were holes and there were a lot of things Gastelum exploited, and there were a lot of things Gastelum could’ve exploited but couldn’t because of his makeup, because of his striking style, because of his height, his reach. Gastelum was getting in. Gastelum was landing his left. I’ll get in, I’ll land my right. I’m much faster than Gastelum, I’m a better striker. Israel should be very worried. I’m a very hard fight.”
Whittaker and Adesanya will clash in a title unification fight later this year, but no date has been announced at this time.
The two fighters are sharing the spotlight in the lead up to their title encounter, but Whittaker says that Adesanya cannot handle being in the spotlight together.
“He had a great win on the weekend and it seems like every time someone asks him a question or they put the spotlight on him for two seconds, he can’t help but mention my name; it’s a little concerning to be honest,” Whittaker said. “He can’t stand the fact people like me more than him. And even if they don’t, he can’t stand the fact people are talking about me in the same sentence as him. He can’t do it. He wants all the spotlight. He wants all the attention, and he can have it. But I find it funny that it gets to him. Just relax, mate. Great fight. You got yourself a shiny belt. We can fight for my one later. I’ve got to say, I don’t understand why this guy is riled up about what I said. The only critical thing I’ve ever said about him is I don’t think he’s as good as he thinks he is. You take that how you want, but he makes it seem like I’m talking behind his back all the time. That’s just how I feel, sorry. Sorry it gets you so upset. He just needs to relax.”
A location for the title unification fight hasn’t been determined yet, but reports have stated that New Zealand or Australia are the front runners for that bout.