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UFC: Whittaker ready to fight Adesanya

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ROBERT Whittaker has labelled his UFC middleweight world title defence against New Zealand’s Israel Adesanya on Sunday as a milestone bout and says he has thrashed himself into the best shape of his career as preparation.

Sydneysider, Whittaker and interim champion, Adesanya meet in a much anticipated match-up which headlines UFC 243 at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium.

It will be Whittaker’s first fight in his home country in almost three years and the first UFC world title defence by an Australian.  “It’s a milestone for my career, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Whittaker said.

‘I’m given the moment to get out there defend my title and I’m just making history.” Whittaker last fought in June 2018 in Chicago – he was scheduled to fight in Melbourne in February this year but health issues forced a rethink – so the 28-year-old has put himself through the hardest preparation of his career.

“On the back of what happened last time I just jumped back into training with a fervour,” Whittaker said. “I focused on my strength, my conditioning, focused on my health, on my fitness and just honestly, I’ve thrashed myself this camp.

“All my loads are managed with spreadsheets that my performance coach (Fabricio Itte) handles, and in terms of intensity of sessions and the work rate was just way, way more.”  UFC president, Dana White has compared Kiwi Israel Adesanya’s star power to two of the biggest names in mixed martial arts history.

‘The Last Stylebender’ made his Octagon debut in February 2018 and in just six fights, he has propelled himself into an undisputed middleweight title shot.   White told Newshub that Adesanya was already in elite company.

“This kid exploded onto the scene and from the minute I met him, I knew this kid could be a star,” White noted. “His rise is very Conor McGregor-ish and even Ronda Rousey.  “They came in and their style of fighting was good, they started fighting legitimate people quick and rose to the top very fast

“It’s very similar.”  Adesanya won the interim middleweight title earlier this year, defeating Mexican-American Kelvin Gastelum in a fight-of-the-year candidate.

That victory lifted the Nigerian-born striker to a perfect 17-0 career record, including UFC wins over Gastelum, Derek Brunson, Brad Tavares and Octagon legend Anderson Silva.

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