Houston, TX — Two and a half years on from their first meeting, Robert Whittaker had a better effort against Israel Adesanya. But it still wasn’t enough.
After five rounds, three judges scored the UFC 271 middleweight title fight for Adesanya unanimously, sending “The Reaper” back to the drawing board. In Whittaker’s mind, he feels he did enough to talk away with the win on Saturday — though he won’t protest too much.
“You can see in this fight I had with him, how far I’ve come. To the point that I think I beat him,” Whittaker told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight. “So I’m excited. I’m excited for the future. The ceiling in nowhere in sight. There is no ceiling for me, I don’t believe, is how I feel.”
Despite coming off a loss, Whittaker was in good spirits following his second tussle with Adesanya. And he had high praise for the champ.
“He’s a good fighter. Props where they’re due, he’s a very good fighter. Honestly, I don’t see anybody else getting close to beating him,” Whittaker stated. “He’s a phenomenal fighter. He’s got good eyes, got good timing, and his physical make-up just makes him dangerous. He’s been gifted with a good set.” But Whittaker also saw something else on Saturday night in Houston. “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, beat him every time, he didn’t land anything that really hurt me but that one shot in the first.”
Despite believing he had done enough, Whittaker made it clear that he was not protesting the result, however. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want this popping up in a highlight reel, screaming ‘Rob thinks he won, blah blah blah.’ I’m not taking anything away from him. He won. Literally, he won. He got the belt, that’s how it works. The judges gave it to him. That’s the game, that’s the business.”
Saying that he has “nothing but respect” for Adesanya’s skillset, Whittaker added that “I’m proud of myself for getting back on the horse after that first loss, putting myself together the way 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.”
The Adesanya losses are Robert Whittaker’s only defeats since 2014. Asked what’s next for him following his second loss to “The Last Stylebender,” Whittaker replied “pottery.” But it’s clear he intends to work his way back up the ladder.
“Honestly, a third fight between me and Izzy is inevitable. It’s inevitable. Because I’m going to stomp anybody 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.’ 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.”
Watch the full UFC 271 post-fight press conference with Robert Whittaker above.