LAS VEGAS — The UFC finally made the most anticipated fight of the year official Friday in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile arena.
All that’s left is to find a location.
Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya takes on Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker on Oct. 5 at UFC 243, an event that currently lacks a lot of available details.
Adesanya fights out of New Zealand, while Whittaker is Kiwi-born and lives in Australia, leaving fans in the southern hemisphere hoping the event might be held there. Especially given past attendance.
UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm, holds the record for most attended event in the company’s history with 56,214 filling the Docklands Stadium in Melbourne.
Despite all that, UFC President Dana White was reluctant to give out the details as to where the bout will take place.
“We don’t have a venue — we are looking at different options right now, it could be in Australia,” said White, to reporters at the UFC’s international fight week press conference, here in Vegas.
“Listen, if I had something to announce I would do it, so you can grill me all day I’m going to say nothing.”
While the UFC exec expressed his desire to remain coy, the same cannot be said for the two middleweight champions.
Remember the name, Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya.
In my opinion the breakout superstar of 2019, his fight against Kelvin Gastelum will be tough to top for fight of the year and he’s got a middleweight unification bout with Robert Whittaker later this year
Where? TBA pic.twitter.com/q7WAv5J2Hm
— Marcus Rebelo (@marcusrebelo94) July 6, 2019
Adesanya (17-0) has taken over the mixed martial arts scene since being signed to the promotion in February 2018.
An unprecedented six victories since then including his last, an epic unanimous decision win for the interim middleweight title against Kelvin Gastelum that currently stands as the fight of the year, has the 29 year-old confident going into October.
“Since my last fight I’ve relaxed, gone on holiday and minded my own business while he [Whittaker] kept talking smack,” said the New Zealander. “I’m motivated, excited and ready to go.”
Whittaker (20-4), who is the current middleweight champion and riding a nine-fight win streak, chose to disagree.
“I don’t believe I’ve been talking that much,” said the Sydney native. “He’s a dangerous fighter, it’s going to be a killer fight.”
Meanwhile, former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic remained adamant he would not return to the octagon unless it’s for a rematch with Daniel Cormier. The latter knocked Miocic out the last time the two were in the octagon.
That sentiment has was tested by talk of Brock Lesnar returning to the UFC to face off against Cormier, which would have held out Miocic even longer, possibly hurting his career.
The Independence, Ohio native’s risk paid off as he got to enjoy life outside the octagon the last 12 months and will get his rematch against Cormier for the heavyweight title Aug. 17 at UFC 241 in Anaheim, California.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Miocic. “I got to rest though, got my mind right and watched my daughter grow up. I told her, dad is going to be champ again.”
Cormier obviously disagrees with that claim.
“I just don’t think he’s good enough to beat me,” said the 40-year-old. “He’s a great champion and fighter but whether it’s 25 minutes or two rounds I’m still going to win.”
The San Jose, California, native’s American Kickboxing Academy teammate, lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, is arguably the UFC’s biggest global star especially after his UFC 229 victory in his last fight against Conor McGregor in October, 2018.
Now Nurmagomedov will attempt to unify the division Sept. 7 in Abu Dhabi against Dustin Poirier.
“No matter where the fight is, the octagon is always my territory,” said the Dagestani-Russian. “I know I will have the Muslim support there but I’m sure Dustin will have fans there too.
“When the cage door closes though, it’s just me and him, no coaches and no fans can help us.”
Following this Saturday’s UFC 239 PPV event, the next will take place in Edmonton, July 27, when Max Holloway defends his featherweight title against Frankie Edgar. This fight has been made twice before but without any luck due to injuries and unforeseen circumstances.
The closest thing to Rocky Balboa’s fighting style inside the octagon might be from Edgar.
A former lightweight champion and 12-year UFC veteran with numerous legendary comeback bouts, the Toms River, New Jersey native is looking to become the eighth fighter to become a two-division champion.
“It would be the cherry on top,” said the 37-year-old. “My career speaks for itself but I’m not satisfied. “I want to go out as a champion.”