Whilst there may not be a log-jam at middleweight in regards to who’s next to challenge for Isreal Adesanya’s throne, there’s certainly a number of contenders who believe they’ve done enough to earn a title challenge, namely former foes, Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori.
For former titleholder, Whittaker, he firmly stamped his title credentials once again in the main event of UFC Vegas 24 last weekend — adding Kelvin Gastelum to a now three-fight winning spree, via a one-sided, routine unanimous decision win.
For Trento native, Vettori, he’s managed to notch four consecutive wins, most recently headlining UFC Vegas 23 at the beginning of the month — taking a unanimous judging win of his over short-notice replacement, Kevin Holland.
Both men have shared the Octagon with Adesanya in the past; Whittaker back in October of 2019 where he suffered a second-round knockout defeat to the Nigerian-Kiwi in a middleweight title unification clash, and for Vettori, he battled to a close split decision defeat at UFC Fight Night Glendale back in April of 2018.
Prior to his matchup with Holland, Vettori had made his intentions clear to score a rematch with Adesanya, and following his judging success, suggested an October rematch against the reigning titleholder.
“I want (Israel) Adesanya next,” Vettori told former two-weight UFC champion, Daniel Cormier, during his post-fight interview. “I will improve by then — by the next fight for sure. In October, I want to fight him. I think I deserve it, I have the biggest — the longest win streak right now, other people were supposed to show up and they didn’t. And now I’m on a winning streak like I said, and I’ve put on winning performances, dominant performances. I want this title, man.“
Echoing calls for a matchup with the City Kickboxing striker this afternoon on his official Twitter account, Vettori asked Adesanya if he was “ready to go” — before warning him that he “can’t hide forever“.
“@stylebender (Israel Adesanya) wassup little guy ready to go??” Vettori tweeted. “Are you still feeding bananas to your dog from your own mouth? It’s because I’d like to break all your teeth so that you can do that even better. Can’t hide forever it’s inevitable.“
Expected to return to the middleweight division in his Octagon comeback, Adesanya suffered his first professional mixed martial arts loss in the main event of UFC 259 back in March.
Climbing to the light heavyweight limit in a headlining title tilt, Adesanya dropped a unanimous decision loss to defending titleholder, Jan Blachowicz in his attempt to become a two-weight champion held simultaneously.
As mentioned earlier, Vettori isn’t the only contender keen on scoring an October showdown against Adesanya, Auckland-born favourite, Whittaker suggested a stadium rematch against the defending kingpin in either Australia or New Zealand.