Rob Whittaker, Jai Opetaia, Israel Adesanya, Tyson Pedro, breaking news, next fight

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Robert Whittaker is open to accepting a $5 million superfight with IBF heavyweight champion Jai Opetaia, but admits his “biggest hurdle” will be given the green light by UFC boss Dana White.

Speaking this week from Noosa, where he and his young family are currently on vacation, Whittaker confirmed his interest in a crossover fight with Opetaia, Australia’s new boxing champion.

The 31-year-old also revealed he is currently nursing two broken toes, suffered on the way to that emphatic UFC Paris triumph over Italian Marvin Vettori earlier this month.

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As the victory allows Whittaker to pursue a trilogy fight with middleweight king Israel Adesanya, the Sydneysider confirmed he would be happy to ‘swing’ at Opetaia first – especially as the proposed deal to his agent Titus Day is around $2 million.

Still, with reports suggest Whittaker has just one fight left on his UFC contract, certain contractual stipulations could keep Australia’s first UFC champion locked in until the end of 2023 – meaning that he will need White’s permission to take any crossover fight.

While Irish megastar Conor McGregor was cleared to throw himself against Floyd Mayweather in 2017, the famed US promoter has recently shown little interest in stars like Francis Ngannou and Kumaru Usman switching sports.

“So while I would love to box, the biggest hurdle is my contract,” Whittaker conceded.

“Everything would have to be approved by the big boss.

“But if both Jai and I get paid a lot of money, yes, we can fight each other.

“Although honestly, I like him.

“Jai and I have worked together before, we’ve fought together…and let me tell you, he can go for it. So I would have to collapse to get one on him.

“But we can fight for the right money.”

In addition to getting White’s deal, Whittaker’s immediate future also hinges heavily on the upcoming UFC 281 showdown between Adesanya and Brazilian Alex Pereira.

If Pereira wins the middleweight crown in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 13, Whittaker insists he would then have to be the first to take a shot at the new champion in early 2023.

“I hope to go straight into it next, yes,” he said of a Pereira victory. “I believe it is my due.

“But it wouldn’t blow me away if they gave Adesanya the rematch first. He’s a UFC cash cow and I’m sure they want to keep it going.

Elsewhere, there has also been talk of Whittaker facing a left-field opponent, such as welterweight stars Khamzat Chimaev and Colby Covington.

It was only recently that Chimaev said he would rather train with Whittaker than fight him, an offer the Aussie has since accepted.

Asked about the Chechen star, who remains unbeaten as a professional, Whittaker said: “He and I are friendly so I’m not looking to fight him.

“And let’s be honest, if you’re trying to build a fighter, you’re not putting him against me.

“I’ve deflated the UFC tires too many times…they won’t want to do that.”

Covington?

“Don’t deserve a fight with me,” Whittaker chuckled. “But I’ll crush Colby for a few more bucks.” Do it for fun.

“YOU MUST BREAK SOME EGGS”

STILL on Whittaker, and the Aussie revealed he broke two toes on his right foot in the second round of his win over Marvin Vettori.

Asked about the injuries, the fighter nicknamed Bobby Knuckles said it was a kick aimed at Vettori’s body – but which hit the Italian’s elbow – which broke both his middle toe and the one to his immediate right.

“I also know the exact kick,” laughed Whittaker.

Oh good?

“Oh, I heard it,” he continued. “When your toes hit an opponent’s elbow hard…yeah, you know.”

Rob Whittaker has two broken toes.Source: AFP

Despite the injury, Whittaker insists he wasn’t too embarrassed and knew he had to keep landing with his right foot.

“I threw the kick a few times in the first round and I could see it hurt him,” he explained.

“And I knew if I hurt him at mid-range Vettori would have to fix it – or it was going to be given to him all day.

“So he started bringing his elbows in. Which means they’re not near his head.

“That’s when I started to throw the head kick.”

Yet somewhere in between, his toes broke.

“Although sometimes to make this omelet,” laughs Whittaker, “you have to crack a few eggs.”

So what about persistent problems?

“Only when kids step on it,” he said. “Which is all the time on this holiday.”

PEDRO’S BRUTAL PREPARATION

Tyson Pedro has revealed how he caught Covid, passed it on to his granddaughter, then lost his grandfather in an incredibly emotional buildup to his victory at UFC 278.

Returning to Australia on Wednesday, Pedro has spent the past month touring Europe with his wife Rosie, mother Karran and daughter Giselle, who just turned one.

The getaway follows the Sydneysider’s standout win over American Harry Hunsucker in August, his second first-round stoppage since returning to the Octagon after more than three years on the sidelines.

Still, if returning from three major knee surgeries isn’t dramatic enough, Pedro has now revealed how, six weeks from UFC 278 and two days after arriving in Auckland to train with Israel Adesanya at City Kick Boxing, he caught Covid.

Which was a problem.

“Because in addition to missing the first two weeks of camp, I then passed it on to my family who were there to help me settle in,” he says.

Tyson Pedro.Source: AFP

” It was hard.

“By making everyone sick, I felt very bad. But luckily my baby girl wasn’t too bad so I was really grateful.

However, shortly after leaving solitary confinement, the fighter learned that his beloved grandfather, Bruce Porter, had passed away, after suffering a heart attack while on a caravanning holiday.

“We were also very close,” Pedro said.

“So, having already missed two weeks of camp, I arranged to return to Australia and attend the funeral. But on the way home, my plane ran out of fuel in the air and had to be diverted.

“That meant that while I was in the air I was then trying to book another flight to Sydney.

“I did it a few hours before the funeral and then right after I went back to CKB.”

Despite his emotional preparation, Pedro pulled off a convincing victory in the first round.

“But you have to get through it because your opponent, he doesn’t care what happens,” the fighter said. “I’m just grateful that I got to go out and put on a show.”

Back in Sydney with his family on Wednesday evening, Pedro was straight back to the gym and training on Thursday morning.

THE BIG AUSSIE BLOW

Jack Jenkins, not too long ago, was pouring beers in a small town pub and being told he couldn’t fight.

At the time, the Australian featherweight was on a two-game losing streak.

“And a lot of people knew that,” he recalled.

“The regulars came every afternoon and said ‘you’ve lost two, it’s time to give it away’. Or they kept asking me when I was going to quit and make a trade.

“There was even this guy, a guy who thought he knew a little about fighting, who was always telling me ‘man, you’re never gonna beat the Brazilians or the Yanks’.

“I just remember thinking ‘f…you’. I refused to give up. »

Now 29, Jenkins arrived in Las Vegas this week to make final preparations for his shot at the next episode of Dana White’s Contender series on Tuesday, September 27 (AEST).

The Australian featherweight, who is currently on a six-fight winning streak, will take on Ecuadorian-born Freddy Emiliano Linares, who is 9-1 as a pro and nicknamed “Predator”.

“And I still carry that chip on my shoulder,” says the former bartender now set to sign a contract with the UFC. “All those people who said I’d never make it – look at me.”

REASON FOR AUSSIE WITHDRAWAL

Jamie Mullarkey’s shock withdrawal from UFC 280 was reportedly due to a serious Covid fight. The Central Coast lightweight not only fell ill during fight camp, but later exhibited symptoms severe enough to leave him with no choice but to pull out of his fight against Dagestan fighter Magomed Mustafaev.

TSZYU’S GETAWAY

Undefeated Australian boxer Tim Tszyu is currently training at the famous MMA gym Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand. A popular base for Alex Volkanovski and Tai Tuivasa, Tszyu chose the gym in an effort to vary his preparations for his January world title showdown with Jermell Charlo. So happy that Tszyu was with the job he is doing at Tiger, the fighter yesterday extended his stay for another week.


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