Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is heading up to the light-heavyweight division for his next fight, and he’s going straight for the jugular by going up against the newly installed champion of the weight class, Jan Blachowicz.
“It’s official,” Adesanya confirmed to Submission Radio. “I guess Dana broke the news, so yeah, I’m going up to 205, and I’m gonna snatch that 205 strap. Respectfully.”
For his part, Dana White had first revealed that Robert Whittaker was initially the UFC’s target to fight Adesanya, but alleged that the ex-middleweight champion turned the offer down, and so the bold plan to have ‘The Last Stylebender’ move up to 205lbs was drawn up instead.
“Listen when the fight was over on Fight Island, the last fight, I was like I’m going to have to sit down with this kid and convince him on why he needs to fight [Robert] Whittaker,” White told reporters after UFC Fight Night 181. “Whittaker comes out and says he doesn’t want to fight him. Craziest sh*t I’ve ever seen.
“So there’s no arguing with Israel now. I thought Whittaker deserved the shot and Whittaker doesn’t want it so we’ll let him do it.”
Whittaker has since reported and denied White’s claim, saying that he didn’t turn down the fight, he just wanted a different date for the showdown.
“I certainly think he took a little twist to what I said,” Whittaker told MMA Junkie. “I never said I don’t want to fight Izzy. That’s not something I said. I did not say that. I’m looking to fight March, April next year. I would like to fight Izzy. If Izzy’s moving up to fight Jan, then I’ll move up and fight him there if he gets the win. I want that fight. I do want that fight. We just had to work it into that timeline.
“I have no control on what the UFC’s going to do or what Izzy’s going to do, but whether he’s here at middleweight or up at light heavyweight, I’ll take the fight him.”
Funnily enough, Blachowicz had just been telling reporters that he’d ideally like to fight in March too, but had also admitted that he was intrigued by fighting Adesanya, who he believes is undersized for the light-heavyweight division.
“Adesanya is not 205. He’s gonna feel the 205 power when he moves to 205,” Blachowicz warned.
Meanwhile, Adesanya says he’s excited by the prospect of fighting Blachowicz and believes he is a dangerous opponent.
“With Jan, he’s a good fighter, he’s solid on the ground, he’s awkward on the feet, very dangerous, and he poses a lot of problems.
“And like, the Whittaker fight wouldn’t get me hard. This gets me hard. Like, this is like, alright, let’s go.
“He’s dangerous on the ground, he’s awkward on the feet, got that legendary Polish power. But yeah, everyone’s got power, right?
“I mean, it’s something I proved in my last fight. I told y’all. You have to deliver that power somehow, you have to get it to the target. I’m not the easiest target to hit.”