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Morning Report: Israel Adesanya believes fans are overvaluing Robert Whittaker’s recent wins: ‘Did he invent a new move or something?’

Israel Adesanya Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

This Saturday, Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight title against the man he took the belt from, Robert Whittaker, in the main event of UFC 271. In their first fight, Adesanya outclassed Whittaker, scoring a second-round knockout in one of the most dominant performances of his career. But despite the sensational performance, Adesanya says that he actually did not fight according to plan in that bout.

“I was surprised with the way I played the game,” Adesanya said on his own YouTube channel. “I called an audible without realizing it, because we had a game plan but then I matched his energy. I was just like, ‘Right, you want to stand 10 toes down, f*ck it. I can stand 10 toes down and I can get buck wild.’ So I matched his energy and I just called an audible. I fought differently.

“I humbled him to the sense that he can’t say the sh*t he was saying the first time around, because he was talking all that sh*t saying this and that. ‘I think Adesanya isn’t as good as he thinks he is.’ I remember that. I’m the elephant in the f*cking room. I never forget. ‘Oh, Israel’s not as good as he thinks he is.’ I’ll show you how great I think I am.”

Adesanya was not alone in fighting differently that night. Since the loss, Whittaker has admitted that the pre-fight build up between the two got into his head, saying that he fought with anger and hate and that it ultimately cost him. Heading into the rematch, Whittaker says that he’s put aside his ego and is approaching this fight much more clear-headed, but Adesanya doesn’t seem to believe him.

“I saw a little snippet of what he was saying. It’s like he finds it hard to swallow,” Adesanya said. “It’s a hard pill for him to swallow. He’s admitting it, he’s saying the right things, but he’s not believing it. He’s ego won’t let him and that’s his downfall. His ego. People tried to say that about me leading to the first fight. ‘Oh, he’s too egotistical. He’s not humble like Whittaker.’ I’m like, bro, stop. I am extraordinarily humble. I know my limits as a human being and my capabilities. So I know I’m the sh*t but at the same time, I know I ain’t sh*t. He needs to check himself. He’s got this new found mental clarity and it would help him positively if it was true. I just don’t buy into it.”

Though Adesanya may not buy into the rejuvenated ‘Bobby Knuckles’, fans certainly are. Since his defeat to the champion, Whittaker has rattled off three impressive wins in a row, all over ranked opposition. That run, plus Whittaker’s admission of fault the first time around, have fans buzzing about what the rematch will look like this weekend. But Adesanya thinks Whittaker is getting too much credit for his wins.

“Yes. Way too much,” Adesanya said. “To the point where I’m like, did he invent a new move or something? Did he reinvent the jab or I don’t know what. He improved, yes, but not to the point where people have blown it up to be. The proportion. I think maybe people just have low standards, that’s all. I just have high standards....

“He played the game very well against all three opponents, I feel. At the same time, you put those three guys together, they don’t amount to me. The way they play the game, it’s not the same. So like I said, (Georges St-Pierre impression) ‘I was not impressed by your performance.’”

UFC 271 takes place this Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.


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VIDEO STEW

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LISTEN UP

On to the Next One. Matches to make following UFC Vegas 47.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Sean Strickland.

Big fight.

Offering suggestions.

Elmo getting in on Dustin Poirier’s corner.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Reinier de Ridder (14-0) vs. Kiamrian Abbasov (23-4); ONE: Full Circle, Feb. 25.

David Branch (22-7) vs. Leandro Ataides (11-5); ONE: Full Circle, Feb. 25.

Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1) vs. Ilir Latifi (15-8, 1 NC); UFC Columbus, Mar. 26.

Ian Garry (8-0) vs. Darian Weeks (5-1); UFC 273, Apr. 9.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL

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