Israel Adesanya is moving on up.
The UFC middleweight champion is going to be granted his wish to fight for a second belt, with UFC president Dana White confirming his next opponent will be light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.
Ever since defending his 185lbs (84kg) belt against Paulo Costa in Abu Dhabi in September, Adesanya has been vocal about his desire to move up to challenge for the 205lbs (93kg) throne, with no real test waiting for him at middleweight.
His quest was given a boost when former champion Robert Whittaker beat the only other potential title challenger in Jared Cannonier last month, with Whittaker subsequently saying he was unlikely to fight again until next April as he and his wife are expecting a child early next year.
So while Whittaker deserves another title shot, Adesanya would have to go on the shelf until Whittaker was ready – which isn’t his style.
White said there was no way he could argue against booking the light heavyweight title fight.
“When the fight (against Paulo Costa) was over, I was like ‘I’m going to have to sit down with this kid and convince him why he needs to fight Whittaker’,” White said at a media conference on Sunday.
“Then Whittaker comes out and says he doesn’t want to fight him. That’s the craziest s*** I’ve seen, so there’s no arguing with Israel now.”
While there has been no timeline given for the fight, it would be in the first quarter of 2020, with Poland’s Blachowicz indicating he would welcome a bout against Adesanya in March.
Adesanya has torn through the middleweight division since making his UFC debut in 2018, with nine wins – seven of those against fighters currently ranked in the top 15 of the division.
The bout will give Adesanya the opportunity to become the fifth dual champion in UFC history should he get past the powerful Blachowicz.
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