The UFC could soon have a new dual-belt champion on its hands.
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will move up in weight class and face Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title, UFC president Dana White revealed to reporters after UFC Vegas 12 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
The 31-year-old Adesanya took the middleweight belt a year ago with a KO of Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 and has quickly established himself as one of the promotion’s biggest stars. He’s coming off a second-round TKO win over top challenger Paulo Costa to improve his career record to 20-0.
In Adesanya’s way will be Blachowicz, who recently topped Dominick Reyes to take the light heavyweight belt vacated by Jon Jones. There had long been chatter that Adesanya could challenge Jones, the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in UFC’s rankings, but Blachowicz will now be the opponent instead with Jones’ stated intention to move to heavyweight.
If Adesanya tops Blachowicz, he will join Conor McGregor, Amanda Nunes, Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo as the only fighters to hold two belts at the same time.
Dana White: Robert Whittaker turned down Adesanya fight
Apparently, White’s initial plan for Adesanya’s next fight was a rematch against former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, but an obstacle got in the way: Whittaker himself. From Jed Goodman:
“I was like, ‘I'm gonna have to sit down with this kid and convince him on why he has to fight Whittaker.’ Whitaker comes out and says he doesn't want to fight him. Craziest s--- I've ever seen, so yeah, there's no arguing with Israel now. I thought Whittaker deserved the shot and Whittaker doesn't want it, so yeah we'll let him do it.”
White seemed to be referring to these comments from Whittaker made in an interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani:
“The thing is, it will happen. It’s not something that I need to chase becaus it’s going to happen. That’s why after I lost to [Adesanya] I didn’t start roaring that I wanted a rematch because I knew that if I beat the guys they put in front of me, I’ll get there eventually. I want to run that back with Izzy, I want that fight, but I’m in no rush. I’m not going anywhere.”
Whittaker has beaten Darren Till and Jared Cannonier since losing the belt to Adesanya, but he seems to be in no rush to recapture the belt.
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