Adesanya was undefeated up until his move to light heavyweigh. Back at UFC 259 in March of 2021 Blachowicz outpointed Adesanya thanks to a good strategy. That strategy mainly consisted of religiously checking calf kicks and being patient in exchanges.
Then once the championship rounds started Blachowicz started taking down Adesanya and controlling him on the ground to the point where he spent the majority of round 4 trying to squirm out.
But in spite of this experience Adesanya believes Rob Whittaker is underestimating his ground work. In a recent appearance on The Megan Anderson Show, he said:
“I think he’s underestimating my grappling so I look forward to exchanging with him in that part of martial arts because he never felt me the first time in the clinch or on the grapple and [he can talk to] everyone you can go talk to [Derek] Brunson and ask him what I feel like in the clinch so I look forward to exchanging with him, I look forward to scrambling with him here and I like that look in their eyes when they realize what they’re in for. Same thing in the first fight when they realize ‘oh s–t he is as good as he says he is.’ So [I] look forward to him feeling that when we grapple [and] when you exchange locks.”
Adesanya has 80% takedown defense over the course of his UFC career.
Meanwhile Whittaker kept it civil in his interviews – mostly focusing on mental preparation for the rematch.
“Mate, I’m in a completely different headspace now than I was then,” Whittaker stressed. “I’ve been in this game a long time and with that comes change and evolution. Sometimes, the process isn’t clean and I’m only human at the end of the day. That was the catalyst I needed to happen for me to make some changes to get myself better. And I’m glad it happened because I certainly have come out better.” Whittaker told Yahoo Sports.