Their second fight was an absolute classic – and although he fell short of reclaiming his title, many praised Whittaker for going the distance against the man who knocked him out.
The next step? Get ready for the trilogy.
“It’s inevitable that we’re going to fight again, it can’t be helped,” he told Wide World of Sports.
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“Losing the way I did in that first fight, it shakes you a bit – so with how that second fight went and how close it was, I’m better now than going in.”
The fight was an epic, five-round thriller which could have gone either way – and despite the closeness of the fight, Whittaker said he wouldn’t cry over spilt milk.
“I left that fight with so much confidence,” he said.
“I’m honestly excited for the future and see how far I can go and how far I can take things.”
Whittaker conceded that the most logical next opponent for him would be Marvin Vettori, while Adesanya defends the title against Jared Cannonier.
“If you look at the ladder, it’s just about fighting who I haven’t fought yet – and he’s someone who I haven’t fought, so he’s someone that makes the most logical sense.”
The other option, of course, is moving up a weight class to light heavyweight.
“I’m interested in it because I wouldn’t have to cut and all that, but whether or not I actually do it, who knows? I’m doing pretty well at middleweight.”
Whittaker also said he’d be interested in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham later this year – but it would only happen by chance.
“I’d love to – but it’s just a matter of dates and times, and how my body’s going and if it’s just before or after a fight,” Whittaker said.
“The UFC is my job, that’s how I earn a living – so everything has to revolve around that.”
But before anything is inked for the future, Whittaker will continue putting in work at Camden Valley Wrestling – his facility in Smeaton Grange, south-west of Sydney.
He, along with fellow coaches Alex Prates and Jacob Malkoun, recently welcomed the Penrith Panthers through the doors.
“Having those boys around was great. They just create an atmosphere of hard work, and being the cream of the crop. To have that and be able to feed off it was pretty good.”
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