Marvin Vettori sat on the edge of the cage at UFC Vegas 24 and reportedly called for a No.1 contender fight with victorious Robert Whittaker. But the ex-champion had a message for his colleague at Saturday’s post-fight press conference.
“I’ve only fought the No.1 contenders,” said Whittaker, who has beaten Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and now Kelvin Gastelum since losing his belt to current champion Israel Adesanya. “I have already run the glove. Anyone who had a chance for the title if they beat me, I beat them. That’s it.
“I like Marvin, I guess. He is fine. But I think he still has to fight. I don’t think he fought the top three guys, the top five guys, really. But he can wait his turn. Let me fight, and then he can fight the winner. Relax.”
Whittaker isn’t too bothered by Vettori’s eagerness, or Adesanya’s verbal punches, which immediately weighed on the UFC Vegas 24 result with a little reminder of his dominance.
“I have played video games all my life. I’m no stranger to trash talk, ”said Whittaker. “Honestly, he gets to do it. He won the last fight between us, so I guess that was going to happen, right? It’s just him who is him, I guess.
For what it’s worth, Whittaker appears to have the endorsement of UFC President Dana White, who told Yahoo! Kevin Iole sports that a meeting between Whittaker and Adesanya “makes sense.” Whittaker previously pitched the idea of a Down Under stadium show in September, which would be a resumption of their fateful title fight at UFC 243.
“I’m going to come home and watch my injuries, because it was a tough fight,” said Whittaker. “But I think the borders in New Zealand are the best they’ve ever been, so in September I think we can put on a full show and pump the industry there and the MMA industry in its together.
It was an interesting statement to come on a night when much of the combat sports and pop culture world was focused on something completely different from the UFC, a boxing match between YouTube celebrity Jake Paul and the ‘Former MMA Champion Ben Askren.
The main events of UFC Vegas 24 and Triller Fight Club started at exactly the same time. They didn’t end so close, with Paul flooring Askren in the first round as Whittaker and Gastelum plied their trade and showed the best of MMA.
Despite an ongoing debate over the purity of combat sports and the criticism needed from both sides of the boxing / MMA aisle, Whittaker had nothing bad to say about Paul’s victory other than cheeky fun at the expense of Askren. Trash talk, just as usual.
“Well, no one saw it coming,” Whittaker said without laughing before chuckling. “Ben Askren isn’t known for his boxing, is he? But hey on [Paul]. He does his thing. Keep doing your thing.
When the MMA world learned of Askren’s massive $ 500,000 salary, there was no doubt some golf applause for his decision to box Paul. Whittaker was completely understanding.
“Yeah, I would fight him for less,” he said with another laugh.