Robert Whittaker is in a wierd, unusual place.
At 30 years of age, the Australian striker is unquestionably in his athletic prime. His mature and composed demeanor make it straightforward to overlook that “Bobby Knuckles” gained the title as a fresh-faced 27-year-old. He’s nearly definitely improved because the evening he out-dueled Yoel Romero to develop into UFC champion.
The battle in addition to the following rematch appeared to verify Whittaker as a possible long-time and dominant champion. In any case, he took the lengthy highway to the 185-pound title. It wasn’t fairly Max Holloway’s rise to Featherweight gold, however Whittaker took out a handful of the top-ranked contenders on his approach up, handily defeating males like Derek Brunson, Ronaldo Souza and Uriah Corridor, amongst others.
Two of these three are nonetheless within the Prime 10 at the moment.
Sadly for followers of Australia’s “Reaper,” Israel Adesanya exists. Not solely does he exist, however he ran by the Middleweight ranks at a virtually unparalleled price to earn his title shot. Even worse nonetheless, Adesanya is maybe the worst doable type match up for Whittaker: an absolute skilled at Whittaker’s bread-and-butter.
What’s a incredible combined martial arts (MMA) striker speculated to do towards a real world-class kickboxer? Adesanya out-classed the Aussie of their first match up, knocking him out twice. Even when Whittaker now mixes within the occasional takedown try, it’s arduous to see what goes in a different way in a rematch. Whittaker is the youthful man, enhancing and rising into his prime, but it’s nonetheless a tough promote.
That’s a crappy spot to be in, but Whittaker goes about the issue in the very best method. Somewhat than deal with the injustice of this nightmare match up materializing from the ether then refusing to go away or grant him a rematch, Whittaker has adopted a place as Middleweight’s second king.
In a non-Adesanya world, Jared Cannonier and Darren Until would have been title defenses. In truth, these are the lads “Stylebender” himself has repeatedly expressed curiosity in combating for the belt.
As a substitute, Whittaker stepped into the cage and dealt with enterprise himself.
Whittaker holds wins over three of the present Prime 5-ranked contenders. If Romero hadn’t salsa’d off to Bellator, that may possible be No. 4. Paulo Costa is the one exception, and Whittaker was speculated to battle him this weekend. In essence, Whittaker is continuous his champion’s work of clearing out the division … he’s simply now not the 185-pound king.
Sadly, Adesanya is a particular fighter who operates by particular guidelines. Whittaker is greater than deserving of a rematch, even when this analyst doesn’t love his odds. But, Adesanya is allowed to leap up and problem for Mild Heavyweight gold whereas Whittaker fights his challengers. Adesanya can be apparently allowed to go over Whittaker indefinitely, as a result of he’s … not ?
There’s no finish in sight for Whittaker. He has to maintain profitable towards elite-caliber opposition — together with this weekend (Sat., April 17, 2021) towards Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Vegas 24 — till a rematch is simple. And who is aware of how lengthy that can take? Each battle is harmful, an actual threat of resetting again to the first step.
That’s the truth of Whittaker’s scenario. I simply hope that followers can respect a formidable expertise and real pound-for-pound nice, even when he now not holds the title or has a transparent path again to it.
Do not forget that MMAmania.com will ship LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow protection of the whole UFC Vegas 24 battle card this weekend, beginning with the ESPN+/ESPN2 “Prelims” matches, that are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining important card steadiness on ESPN/ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET.
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