Since their title unification bout at UFC 243, middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has made it clear that on a personal level, he is no fan of former and future opponent Robert Whittaker.
In the lead-up to the fight, many fiery words were exchanged on both social media and in person at the press conference. This feud is something that remains ongoing in their upcoming rematch.
In a recent interview with Stake, Adesanya elaborated on his vehement dislike Whittaker. He discussed the Australian’s self-confessed ego, which he himself has admitted affected his performance in their first fight.
“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!”
Despite this, to the eyes of many fans it seems that the pair could be friends. Whether it be gaming, comic books or anime – their shared interests outside of fighting would make it appear that on a base level, they could get along.
Talking to Fox Sports Australia ahead of their rematch at UFC 271, Adesanya was posed the question of whether one day the middleweights could become “mates”. The comparisons made between the two however, were not enough to help draw ‘The Last Stylebender’ to a conclusion.
“I don’t know about being friends one day but – f***. I don’t think that far ahead. I don’t like the guy and he doesn’t like me, it’s plain and simple. After the fight we show respect and yeah – I wish him well but unfortunately he has to fight me.”
Proving that this opinion was not an unpopular one, he went on to say that this was not the first time the question had been posed to him as of late. In-fact, it was it was the third time that he had been asked it that day alone.
“Sorry I just find it really weird. I literally got asked that three times today so I was just like ‘that’s a really odd question’.”
Even if it was clearly backhanded, he was able to offer “The Reaper” at least one compliment through his noticeable scorn. Making a brotherly comparison between himself and his rival.
“We’re like step brothers. We don’t get along – just leave it that way maybe.”
It should be noted that this dislike is one shared mutually between the two men. Whittaker’s quiet and well-mannered demeanour has not stopped him from lashing out his fair share of slander. Last year he went on record calling Adesanya a “sh*thead”.
Where Whittaker seeks to regain his middleweight crown, Adesanya plans to continue his lapping of the division. The rematch is set to headline UFC 271 on the 12th of February at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.