Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
It looks like Israel Adesanya will have an opportunity to become ‘champ-champ’ sooner rather than later.
Following UFC Vegas 12 on Saturday night, UFC president Dana White confirmed plans to have Adesanya move up to 205 pounds for his next fight where he will challenge new light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.
According to White, the UFC had initially plotted the course for Adesanya to face former champion Robert Whittaker in a rematch but instead the middleweight king will attempt to win a second title in his return to action in 2021.
“Listen when the fight was over on Fight Island, the last fight, I was like I’m going to have to sit down with this kid and convince him on why he needs to fight [Robert] Whittaker,” White explained during the post fight press conference. “Whittaker comes out and says he doesn’t want to fight him. Craziest sh*t I’ve ever seen.
“So there’s no arguing with Israel now. I thought Whittaker deserved the shot and Whittaker doesn’t want it so we’ll let him do it.”
Adesanya has teased a move up to light heavyweight for quite some time but he always planned on pursuing another title after he cleared out all of the contenders at 185 pounds.
Initially, Adesanaya hoped to face Jared Cannonier in his next title defense but he lost to Whittaker in the UFC 254 co-main event, which seemingly dashed that potential fight before it could ever happen.
In their previous meeting, Adesanya dispatched Whittaker by second-round TKO and it appears for now there won’t be a rematch.
Instead, Adesanya will begin the journey up to light heavyweight where he will clash with Blachowicz, who won the vacant 205-pound title in September with a second-round knockout over Dominick Reyes. Blachowicz has won his past four fights in a row with three of those victories coming by knockout in the first or second round.