If Israel Adesanya’s coach Eugene Bareman can give one bit of advice to Robert Whittaker, it’s to not downplay his student’s skills.
Whittaker and Adesanya meet in a middleweight title unification fight in the main event of UFC 243 which takes place October 5 in Melbourne, Australia. The highly-anticipated matchup is regarded as the biggest fight in Australasian history and should deliver fireworks.
Going into the bout, oddsmakers are favoring Whittaker and many in the mixed martial arts world also seem to be doing the same. However, Adesanya is no stranger to being the underdog. Many, including past opponents like Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson, and Kelvin Gastelum also believed “The Last Stylebender” would have suffered his first loss by now.
For Bareman, it’s simply because they are downplaying Adesanya’s skills.
“One common theme I’ve seen with all the opponents is the same rhetoric and it’s they won’t acknowledge what’s in front of them,” Bareman told The Body Lock’s John Hyon Ko. “They won’t acknowledge the skills, they always downplay it. Not one of Israel’s opponents will acknowledge every single time how good they are at what they do and then pick them apart.
“Robert’s entered into the same rhetoric as all the other opponents. Downplaying what Israel is and how good he is. And that’s fine, maybe that’s what you’re going to do to boost your confidence.”
Although Whittaker has praised Adesanya’s skills in the past, Bareman still believes “The Reaper” is doing the same thing by downplaying his upcoming opponent. In a way, the City Kickboxing coach is relieved as what he really fears is a future opponent who acknowledges just how good Adesanya is.
“I’ll be worried when an opponent comes through and starts acknowledging what Israel is, his strengths,” he explained. “That’s when I’ll start to worry. But unfortunately, Robert hasn’t done that.”
As for the fight itself, Bareman unsurprisingly expects Adesanya to come out on top. While the New Zealander had moments of trouble against Gastelum in their interim title fight at UFC 236, Bareman expects Adesanya to fix those errors and control the fight against Whittaker.
“…I see Israel just controlling the fight with his range and with his speed and where he wants the fight to be and where he wants Robert to be,” he added.
You can see the full interview below: