Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker may have gotten into his way when he lost the title to Israel Adesanya at UFC 243.

Whittaker’s first path to the UFC middleweight belt was messy, to say the least. After earning the interim title over Yoel Romero at UFC 213, he was slated to face Romero again for the belt that Georges St-Pierre had vacated but held onto the title in a split decision at UFC 225 after Romero failed to make weight.

After pulling out of his originally scheduled title defense against Kelvin Gastelum, he would go on to eventually face Adesanya for the unified belt at UFC 243. He would love via a vicious knockout in the second round in front of the hometown crowd in Australia.

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During a recent interview with MMA Junkie, Whittaker explains what he thinks went wrong with his approach to Adesanya.

“I think (Adesanya) even mentioned it – that my ego was something that affected me,” Whittaker said. “As much as I don’t want to acknowledge my opponent for insight, my ego probably was a big thing, was a big part of why my headspace wasn’t where it should’ve been for that fight – why I was letting the debate between Australia and New Zealand get to me, why I was letting all these little things get to me. It showed. The results of that showed in the way I was behaving, in the way, I put the fight together, and the way I was fighting at the moment. I’ve acknowledged all of that and you can see obviously I’ve come to terms with all of that and I’m a different fighter now than I was then.”

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Robert Whittaker Has Worked His Way Back To Israel Adesanya

Whittaker has rebounded well since his loss to Adesanya, putting together three-straight wins over the likes of Gastelum, Jared Cannonier, and Darren Till. Now, he’ll get his chance for revenge at UFC 271.

It’s clear that Whittaker and Adesanya have some level of dislike for each other, but it’ll be up to Whittaker to not fall for the mind games and focus on the task at hand.

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What is your prediction for the Robert Whittaker vs. Israel Adesanya rematch at UFC 271?