Rob Whittaker has a message for Israel Adesanya, and those who believe he can’t be champion again.
“I still believe I’m the most dangerous man in the UFC,” Whittaker declared.
The Sydney fighter, former middleweight champion, has returned to the No. 1 ranking for Adesanya’s title belt.
Given Adesanya has beaten Whittaker twice and has expressed a lack of desire for a trilogy bout, questions remain as to whether that bout can transpire next year.
But should Whittaker defeat Brazilian Paulo Costa in Perth on February 12 at UFC 284, Adesanya would have little choice, unless he wishes to vacate and permanently move up to light heavyweight.
“I work hard, I train hard, I have the right mentality fighting, and I’m the best at it,” Whittaker said.
“I understand that I lost to Israel, and he’s a hard fight for me. But it takes nothing away of how good I am.
“I still believe I’m the most dangerous man in the UFC.
“Hopefully you see the best Rob Whittaker come out in February, I starch Costa, we’ll worry about the rest later.”
Critics will question how a third fight against Adesanya could be different to the first two, but Whittaker believes he is in career-best shape.
“That’s the fight I want, I’m in a sport where there’s rankings, and there’s a title,” Whittaker said.
“The only thing for me to be doing is going for that title, otherwise what am I doing?
“I’m happier than ever, and hungrier than ever. I think I’m better than ever.
“I’m very pleased with the way my career has been, I’m very proud of my career, I’ve done a lot of good things and I know I’ve got a lot of good things left to do.
“I do believe that the best is yet to come, and we’re still just getting started.”
Costa also lost a title fight against Adesanya, and then dropped a decision to Marvin Vettori before bouncing back to defeat Luke Rockhold in his most recent bout.
Whittaker, 31, is confident but cautious.
“I’m running out of people to fight, he is someone I was supposed to fight another time, it’s in Perth, it’s at home, everything lined up so I said ‘Yep, why not, I’ll do it’,” Whittaker said.
“He’s as much of a threat as everybody else. He is a specimen of a man, he is a high level athlete with a great skillset. He’s done a lot of work on a lot of good fighters as well, so he’s a real threat to everything I’ve built.
“But I have four months to bring the best out of myself and I do believe that the best Robert Whittaker, nobody comes close to.”
Originally published as UFC 2022: Rob Whittaker primed for trilogy title fight against Israel Adesanya if he can take down Paulo Costa