ABU DHABI – It’s good to be Israel Adesanya right now, according to UFC president Dana White.
Adesanya (20-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC), the UFC middleweight champion, has morphed into one of the most discussed names in the sport in the aftermath of his title defense against Paulo Costa at UFC 253 in September. “The Last Stylebender” has been locked into a heated feud with rival Jon Jones, teased a move up to fight light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz and more.
All of this has raised questions about what’s going to be next for Adesanya. White, however, said he doesn’t have a definitive answer. The superfight talk is intriguing, White said, but he also likes the idea of Adesanya defending his title against the rightful No. 1 contender, which is likely to be the winner of the UFC 254 fight between Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier on Oct. 24.
“We’ve got to talk to him,” White told reporters, including MMA Junkie, on Friday after the UFC on ESPN+ 38 faceoffs in Abu Dhabi. “That’s a fight we could definitely make. But I truly think that the winner of Cannonier and Whittaker should get the next shot. He said he would fight Cannonier. He already beat Whittaker. Whittaker, if he wins, makes a lot of sense, too. It’s a great problem to have. The winner of this fight should absolutely get the shot. You could look at the Blachowicz fight and say, ‘Oh, that’s fun, too.’ Jon Jones is fun. He’s got a lot of options.”
There’s been a lot of push for an Adesanya vs. Jones fight from fans after the personal nature of their online exchanges in recent weeks. Adesanya held nothing back on “Bones” in a recent interview with MMA Junkie, but said he’s sticking to his long-determined timeline of July 2021 to make the bout happen.
White said nothing is firm, though.
“It’s never a bad thing when you have a lot of options,” White said. “It would be worse if we were sitting here going, ‘Oh, who’s next?’ What do you do with this guy?’”