This past Saturday in the headliner of UFC 271, we saw a rematch for the middleweight title. Former champion Robert Whittaker (23-6) was looking to regain the middleweight crown as he took on the champion Israel Adesanya (22-1). This rematch was a fight that was two and a half years in the making.
Robert Whittaker had never lost to another man in the UFC’s middleweight division outside of Israel Adesanya. After losing the title to Adesanya in 2019, Bobby Knuckles responded by defeating three top contenders to earn another shot at the champion. He was out to prove that the first fight was not a representation of him as a fighter.
When the fight started at UFC 271, Whittaker was looking really shaky. Adesanya dropped him in the first round and Whittaker was having a difficult time getting on the inside. However, as the fight went on, Whittaker got better and better.
Rounds 2-4 were very close, but Adesanya seemed to still be getting the edge on things. Whittaker put together his best round in the fifth and he thought he did enough to win the title at UFC 271. However, all three judges gave the fight to Adesanya and Whittaker dropped to 0-2 against the champion.
What’s next after UFC 271?
After UFC 271, Robert Whittaker finds himself in a very tough position. He’s clearly the second best middleweight in the world. He’s head and shoulders better than even the third best middleweight. However, he’s also been defeated twice by the champion and that puts him in a weird purgatory-type place at 185.
In a way, he’s very much like Colby Covington. If Kamaru Usman wasn’t around, Covington would rule the UFC middleweights. Meanwhile if Adesanya wasn’t around, Whittaker would rule 185. Now, Whittaker must take out all contenders again to try and warrant a third fight with the champion.
With that in mind, who should the UFC pair him against? Well, there are a couple of options that make sense. One option would be pairing him against Marvin Vettori (18-4-1). Like Whittaker, Vettori has also lost to Adesanya twice which puts him in a very difficult spot.
Another option for Whittaker could be Sean Strickland (25-3). Strickland has fought his way into UFC title contention, however, he’s going to need one more big win to get a title shot. A win over Whittaker could do that or a win for Whittaker could once again cement that fact that he’s above the rest of the division.