Just over two years ago Israel Adesanya stopped Robert Whittaker in his tracks, spoiling the New-Zealand-born Australian’s first title defence down under with a stunning second-round knockout.

Now, having plotted his own rise back towards title contention, Whittaker will get a chance to avenge that defeat but Adesanya has a brutal warning for the now 31-year-old.

While Whittaker recently claimed to have “learned” from his mistakes at UFC 243, Adesanya is not buying it and instead has declared he will “f***” the Australian “up again”.

Watch UFC 271: Adesanya vs Whittaker LIVE on Main Event available on Kayo & Foxtel, Sunday 13th February from 2pm AEDT. ORDER NOW >

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“He can’t stand with me, so I know he will be forced to grapple,” Adesanya, an ambassador for leading cryptocurrency betting and gaming operator Stake, said.

Adesanya has suffered just one loss since the win over Whittaker, a unanimous decision defeat to Jan Blachowicz, after the Kiwi briefly moved up a weight class.

While Whittaker is not drawing too much from the Pole’s win, he has taken a few hints from Blachowicz’s approach, specifically his use of a “complete skillset”.


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Israel Adesanya is confident of another win. (AAP Image/Michael Dodge)
Israel Adesanya is confident of another win. (AAP Image/Michael Dodge)Source: AAP

Adesanya though warned placing too much of an emphasis on Blachowicz’s blueprint could backfire.

“Last time he said ‘Kevin Gastelum has given the blueprint on how to beat Adesanya’ and now he’s saying ‘Jan has given the blueprint’…. he needs to write his own blueprint,” Adesanya said.

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“If he wants to copy someone else’s work, then by all means try, because it went so well last time for him when we fought.

“Whittaker may have learnt from his mistakes from last time for maybe a round or so, but then trust me, he will revert back to those errors. Once he feels what he felt last time, he won’t know where to turn.

“Also, he didn’t even grapple with me last time, he didn’t really feel me. You can ask any of my previous opponents, they will tell you. So once he feels me in a grapple, then he will get shook again.”

Watch UFC 271: Adesanya vs Whittaker LIVE on Main Event available on Kayo & Foxtel, Sunday 13th February from 2pm AEDT. ORDER NOW >

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Whittaker has since admitted his ego got the better of him in the lead-up to the Adesanya fight, something the Kiwi claimed to known from the very start.

“I said at the time that he is acting out of character and I also said he is not being himself,” Adesanya said.

“People kept saying what a good guy he is, but trust me he’s not. You don’t see that behind the scenes. And now he’s admitted it was his ego that got the best of him – well I told you so, he should have listened to me. What else can he say?”

Israel Adesanya came out on top at UFC 243. Picture: Michael Klein.Source: News Corp Australia

Adesanya did admit to seeing “some improvements” in Whittaker’s game but added they were not as “drastic” as his own, tipping an even more impressing victory than his first at UFC 243.

“This is one of the best camps I have had, and I still have hard training to go,” the Kiwi said.

“Just being present and having fun is important. I look forward to the work in this one, I look forward to coming at him. There has been no cutting corners this time.

“It’s made me even more motivated to do it again and do it more decisively if that’s even possible. That is my motivation for this fight, to get up and beat him again in an even more devastating fashion.”

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John Kavanagh — Conor McGregor’s longtime coach and one of the most respected voices in combat sports — is also tipping an Adesanya win, even if he does not want to.

“I hate to pick one over the other because they’re both fantastic fighters,” Kavanagh told Fox Sports’ Fight Week.

But probably due to the way they match up, due to stylistic reasons, I would lean towards Israel repeating what he did already.

“I love watching Whittaker and he is just that head-down, hard-working guy, all the great skills he has came through long, long hours in the gym really pushing himself. Israel maybe [is] a bit more gifted, things came to him maybe a little bit easier.

“But that’s not to say it’s not a maybe 55-45 fight. It’s very close. Whittaker has had some great wins since that loss but Izzy is just very special. Only that one slip since he went up a weight class.

“Otherwise [he has] looked phenomenal and he just has an air of invincibility about him and a grace of movement that is a joy to watch.”