Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker are set for a rematch for the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title.
The UFC 271 title fight will hold at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas on Sunday, 13th February 2022, while both fighters meet for the second time.
The duo had faced each other in October 2019 at the Marvel Stadium in Australia, where Adesanya defeated Whittaker in round two to become the middleweight champion.
Being his fourth title defense with MMA career record of 21 wins and 1 loss, Adesanya is confident to retain his title but admitted that his opponent is in a better shape and improved than when they last met.
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In a pre-match press conference, Adesanya said, “He’s young; he’s actually younger than me. I know I look fresh, but he’s younger than me. So he’s made a lot of improvements in his game. But you guys have to understand from tough nationals to being the UFC middleweight champion, this guy did a lot of work and he ran through everyone till he ran into me and then I stopped him.
“But the last three fights, he has done what he’s always done. He’s a smart man. I think he has a lot of smart people in his team. They know what they’re in for.”
The Nigerian-born New Zealander is undefeated in his career at middleweight, with his only loss coming at light heavyweight in a UFC title fight against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 in March 2021.
His opponent, Whitaker with MMA record of 24 wins and 5 losses, was the undisputed UFC middleweight champion from 2017 to 2019 till Adesanya dethroned him. He has won three consecutive fights since his loss in 2019 and vies to regain his title.
Whittaker stated at the press conference that he has learnt the lessons from his 2019 loss and he is in a better state for the rematch.
“I’m in a good mood. Things between me and Izzy (Adesanya) have been quite civil, so we’re in a really good place.
“I have to take this rematch with a lot more gravity and respect. I’ve been watching his recent fights and they all look phenomenal. I’ve watched the tape back from our fight and found things I could’ve done differently.
“Honestly my team has done the best job of equipping me with the skills I need to win this fight, it’s on me” Whittaker said.
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Undoubtedly, Whittaker is out for blood and time will tell whether he would trump Adesanya to the UFC title or it would be a repeat of fate similar to the match in 2019.