Interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is preparing for a unification bout against champ Robert Whittaker in what should be the toughest test of the undefeated star’s career.
He doesn’t see it that way.
“He’s a guy I can pick apart easily,” Adesanya said on a conference call Wednesday. “A challenge I haven’t faced before? I don’t think so. He just does what he does very well. There’s only a certain amount of awkwardness that he has that I haven’t seen before, but he can try to prove me wrong. From what I see, though, I’ll pick him apart quite easily.”
The bout will headline UFC 243 on Oct. 5 in Melbourne, Australia.
Whittaker has won nine straight but hasn’t fought since June 2018 because of injures.
Adesanya insists that the division won’t be stagnant when he takes over sole possession of the belt.
“I’ll be a lot more active as a champion than he’s been,” Adesanya said. “Maybe not at the beginning because of timing and everything else, but I’ll be an active champion.”
The pay-per-view event also features a lightweight bout between Dan Hooker and Al Iaquinta.
UFC 245 adds bouts
Undefeated Las Vegan Punahele Soriano will make his UFC debut at UFC 245 on Dec. 14 at T-Mobile Arena.
Soriano, awarded a contract after a win on Dana White’s Contender Series in June, will fight Oskar Piechota in a middleweight bout.
Soriano is 6-0 as a pro with three knockouts and two submissions. His only fight to go the distance was a unanimous decision over Jamie Pickett on the show that earned him a spot on the roster.
A flyweight bout between Sergio Pettis and Kai Kara-France also has been added to the pay-per-view card. Pettis snapped a two-fight losing streak with a decision over Tyson Nam in Mexico City last week. Kara-France has won eight straight fights, including three since joining the UFC.
A featherweight title bout between Alexander Volkanovski and champion Max Holloway also was confirmed, joining a previously announced women’s bantamweight title bout between former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie and two-division champ Amanda Nunes.
Sources indicate a third title fight could be added.
Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens won’t wait long to get into the cage again after their controversial no-contest from last week’s UFC Fight Night 159 card in Mexico City.
The featherweight contenders have been booked for a rematch at UFC on ESPN 6 on Oct. 18 in Boston.
Doctors ruled that Stephens couldn’t continue after he was poked in the eye by Rodriguez 15 seconds into their main event bout, prompting an ugly reaction from the crowd.
Rodriguez accused Stephens of overplaying the damage, and the two almost came to blows in a hotel lobby.
UFC on ESPN 6 is expected to be headlined by a light heavyweight bout between Dominick Reyes and former middleweight champ Chris Weidman.
Heavyweight title bout on hold
Former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier recently announced he would fight one more time and that it would be a rubber match against Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title.
But the retirement bout for Cormier, 40, will have to wait. Miocic suffered an eye injury during a knockout win over Cormier in August and won’t fight again this year, according to his agent.
Octagon heads to Europe
Jared Cannonier will look to extend his winning streak to three when he meets Jack Hermansson in a main event matchup of top 10 middleweights on Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 160 card in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The main card, which also features a welterweight bout between Gunnar Nelson and Gilbert Burns, will stream on ESPN Plus at 11 a.m. Preliminary fights begin at 8.
Saturday: UFC Fight Night 160 (ESPN Plus), Copenhagen
Saturday: Bellator 228 (Paramount), Inglewood, Calif.
Oct. 4: Bellator 229, Temecula, Calif.
Oct. 5: UFC 243 (ESPN Plus), Melbourne, Australia
Oct. 12: UFC Fight Night 161 (ESPN Plus), Tampa, Fla.
Oct. 18: UFC on ESPN 6 (ESPN), Boston