As announced by UFC President Dana White, there will be a Champion vs. Champion bout between middleweight kingpin Israel Adesanya and light-heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. The quest to become the eighth fighter in UFC history to win two titles and the fifth to hold them simultaneously begins for the 31-year old.
The original plan was to pit Adesanya against the man he defeated to win the title, Robert Whittaker in a rematch, but due to expecting the birth of a child in January, Whittaker declined the offer. Whittaker defeated fellow contender Jared Cannonier at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi last week, where it earned him the chance to face Adesanya again. The announcement befuddled White, as he called it “the craziest s–t he’d ever heard”.
“Listen, when the fight was over on ‘Fight Island,’ the last fight (at UFC 254), I was like, ‘I’m going to have to sit down with this kid (Adesanya) and convince him on why he needs to fight Whittaker,” White said. “Whittaker comes out and says he doesn’t want to fight him – craziest s–t I’ve ever seen. 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.”
After teasing to jump weight at 205, the UFC has no choice, but to book the fight. As for the fight against Blachowicz, the fight will take place sometime in 2021. Adesanya last defeated Paulo Costa to retain his middleweight title while Blachowicz defeated Dominick Reyes at UFC 253, earning the vacant light-heavyweight title after Jon Jones relinquished it to pursue competition in the heavyweight division.
With these two combatants still fresh into their title reigns in their respective divisions, there is still a lot of work for them to do. The upcoming matchup set for next year can tell where they may stand, win or lose, and what their next step may be. With Adesanya two title defenses into his reign and Blachowicz just winning the 205-lb crown last month at 37, this already becomes a pivotal fight where their destiny hangs in the balance and both face enormous amounts of pressure equally, whether Blachowicz is defending his title or not.