Julio Cortez/Associated Press
UFC star Israel Adesanya can expect to get back in the Octagon fairly soon, though it won’t be to defend his middleweight title.
UFC President Dana White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that Adesanya will move up to light heavyweight to face Jan Blachowicz. White and Adesanya reportedly spoke about the move Friday with the undefeated Nigeria-born New Zealander on board to switch weight classes.
Adesanya was spotted at UFC Fight Night 181 in Las Vegas on Saturday and had a small back-and-forth with middleweight Kevin Holland after the latter defeated Charlie Ontiveros via technical knockout.
Holland appeared to call out Adesanya for a shot at the title after winning four straight bouts in 2020.
It appears such a fight will have to wait—as will any potential middleweight title fight, which White was hoping to line up this weekend.
ESPN MMA @espnmma
Dana White tells @bokamotoESPN that @stylebender will challenge @JanBlachowicz for the UFC light heavyweight title in his next fight, with a date and location still to be determined. https://t.co/ENrcpECAyJ
“I was adamant on him fighting [Robert] Whittaker for the title, it’s the thing that makes the most sense,” White said about his meeting with Adesanya. “And then Whittaker comes out after the fight and says he doesn’t want to fight [Adesanya], which is wacky, but OK.”
Instead, White is arranging for Adesanya to take on Blachowicz first.
The native of Poland is 27-8 with eight knockouts and a winner of his last four straight bouts dating back to July 2019. Blachowicz last defeated Dominick Reyes via TKO on September 26.
There is no current timeline or location set for the Adesanya-Blachowicz bout. White said Adesanya will not be vacating his middleweight belt to move up to light heavyweight in the interim.
“Israel has really made all the right choices in everything he’s done,” White said. “The kid wants to fight the best and wants to do things that nobody else has done.”
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