Robert Whittaker was set to defend his middleweight title at UFC 234 against Kelvin Gastelum. However, he ended up having a collapsed bowel and a hernia the morning of the fight and forced him into emergency surgery. That resulted in Whittaker having to withdraw from the fight and leave the middleweight division in limbo.
Now, however, Israel Adesanya will take on Gastelum for the interim middleweight title at UFC 236 with the winner getting the title shot against Whittaker.
Speaking on his Grange TV podcast recently, Whittaker shared his thoughts on the news.
“I’m looking to fight the winner of that,” Whittaker said (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I guess, in terms of timelines and dates, it will be a month – two or three months after that. Three months maximum, one-month minimum. That’s the kind of timeline I’m looking for.”
Although many fans believe Gastelum vs Adesanya is the right fight to do for the interim belt, Whittaker doesn’t share that opinion. Rather, he would like to see Adesanya fight another fight before he gets a title shot. ‘The Last Stylebender’ is 5-0 inside the UFC with notable wins over Anderson Silva and Derek Brunson.
Gastelum meanwhile is riding a two-fight winning streak with wins over Michael Bisping and Jacare Souza. But, the two are still ranked fourth and fifth in the division, which is why Whittaker doesn’t believe the two should be fighting for the belt.
“When you look at the poster it says Gastelum vs Adesanya, four versus five, but one, two, three aren’t in the equation,” Whittaker said. “Gastelum’s a great fight for [Adesanya] to fight. I would’ve liked to see him fight Romero or Rockhold or Weidman. I think they’d give him a lot of trouble.”
Ultimately, Whittaker doesn’t have much of a decision and will now fight the winner when he is healthy. The goal is he can return to training soon and fight in the summer and look to unify the belts.