Whittaker absolutely deserved his title when he earned it, but Israel Adesanya believes he doesn’t deserve it now.
Back in July of 2017, Robert Whittaker claimed his first middleweight title in the UFC. Ever since then, he has been plagued by injuries (some of them quite serious), and has been unable to defend his title ever since. His absence has caused some of the other top dogs in the middleweight class to grow impatient.
In particular, there are two fighters that are having issues with Whittaker. First up is Kelvin Gastelum, the opponent who Whittaker was scheduled to fight at UFC 234. Whittaker encountered his most recent health issue, a collapsed bowel and hernia. This happened on the same day of his arranged fight, but it ended up being cancelled as Robert required emergency surgery.
Having missed out on his chance at a title, Gastelum declared himself the new champion, and even wore the title belt around his shoulder. In his eyes, for one person to show up to a fight and the other to not makes the person that showed up the winner by default. That’s kind of hard to say considering Whittaker physically was unable to fight. He could’ve died, honestly, which isn’t worth maintaining some silly macho man persona.
Adding more drama to the pot is Israel Adesanya, the man who would’ve fought the winner of the Whittaker-Gastelum title fight that was cancelled due to emergency surgery. Adesanya feels robbed of a chance at a title, and now has to wait for the true champion to recover.
He has become impatient with Whittaker, citing that this is not his first time backing out of a fight due to injury. Because Whittaker can’t defend himself, Israel thinks the title should be given up, and fought for to declare a new winner.
Whittaker obviously has a different view on things. Being physically unable to fight, he thinks that the two fighters shouldn’t fight each other for a title, but rather should fight Yoel Romero. Whittaker believes that Romero is the second best fighter in the class, and should serve as a true test for the men.
It’s a tricky situation, with two capable fighters ready for a shot at a title, and a champion deserving of his honors, yet unable to defend them. Robert is currently recovering from his recent surgery, and won’t make a return until June or later this year. We’ll have to wait until then to see who the true middleweight champion is.