Marvin Vettori beat Robert Whittaker to a shot at the middleweight title.
While it is true that 'The Reaper' was initially approached for the title fight, Robert Whittaker could not help but feel that the whole arrangement was carefully made to favor the fight camp of champion Israel Adesanya.
'The Reaper' was offered the fight right after his five-round battle with Kelvin Gastelum on April 17, which he managed to win via unanimous decision.
He needed time to recover from the fight and the injuries sustained in it. Whittaker also had to quarantine himself for two weeks after traveling back to his homeland of Australia. It wasn't going to be possible for him to enter fight camp anytime soon for a bout scheduled for June 12.
"I found out about the title shot directly after my fight. And they said, you know - fight in June, Adesanya, blah, blah, blah - and you know how I had just come off a hard five-round fight. I had some injuries I had to deal with. My hands were busted, my shin was busted, and I had to go home. And then I had two weeks of quarantine and yeah, it just wasn't possible. They probably had a feeling that was the decision I would come to. I can't help but feel this was a little ploy on Adesanya's camp's behalf... more than anything else. Yeah, it just wasn't possible."
Robert Whittaker has no problem fighting the winner of that fight when the timing is right.
"But I am more than happy to just chill out and wait for the winner of that fight to happen, and then I fight the winner, because the title fight is the next fight. That's the fight that's happening for me, and I guess we'll wait and see what happens with that fight."
Israel Adesanya wanted to fight Robert Whittaker first
Despite what Robert Whittaker claims, Israel Adesanya has himself admitted that he was keen to fight Robert Whittaker first.
In a video posted on his official YouTube channel where he reacted to the UFC 261 fight card and his rematch with Marvin Vettori, 'The Last Stylebender' stated that he wanted to fight 'Bobby Knuckles' after seeing him go against Gastelum. But it was Vettori who stepped up instead.
"I wanted to fight Rob (Robert Whittaker). I wanted to fight Rob after I’d seen him with Kelvin (Gastelum). But, you know, Marvin was like, ‘I wanna go in October. I wanna go in September’. I’m like, ‘Look, I’m going in June. Whoever wants it, step up’. And, yeah, the Italian stepped up. So, kudos to him."