Reigning UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya has wished past-foe, Robert Whittaker a Happy Father’s Day ahead of their expected rematch later this year, referring to the former champion as his “son” — before claiming he baptized them during their first fight. 

Headlining UFC 263 last weekend in Glendale, Arizona — Adesanya rematched Kings MMA standout, Marvin Vettori at the Gila River Arena — successfully defending his championship for the third time via a one-sided unanimous decision win.

Following the victory, his second over Trento native, Vettori, Adesanya expressed his willingness to re-run his October 2019 matchup with Whittaker but maintained the rematch should take place in Auckland, New Zealand, and explained that he was the “king” so he would be choosing the date of their expected second fight.

Firmly earning a rematch with the City Kickboxing standout, Whittaker has lodged three consecutive wins since his UFC 243 knockout loss to then-interim titleholder, Adesanya, taking a trio of eye-catching unanimous decision wins over one-time welterweight title challenger, Darren Till, the then-surging contender, Jared Cannonier, and common-foe, one-time interim title chaser, Kelvin Gastelum. 

Providing his thoughts on Adesanya’s successful title defence against Vettori in the ‘Copper State’ — Whittaker didn’t appear to be overly impressed with the display, claiming that Adesanya’s isn’t as good as he perceives himself to be.

Watching that fight against (Marvin) Vettori, you can see he’s (Israel Adesanya) not untouchable,” Whittaker said during a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph. “It reinforced the fact that he’s very human. Very touchable. I actually thought his performance was average. Not average in the context of being bad. But he never did anything more than what he had to do.

He didn’t do anything flashy,” Whittaker continued. “He didn’t do anything more than necessary. Which is a good approach. But it certainly doesn’t put you in the realm of the Gods… He’s definitely not a God. He’s a very good fighter, sure. But he’s not as good as he thinks he is.

In response, Adesanya wished Whittaker, whom he referred to as his “son” — a Happy Father’s Day, before claiming that he baptized the Otahuhu-born former champion during their first fight back in Melbourne, Australia: “I might not be a God to you, but I baptized you. #Jezus (sic).

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.