After an impressive win over Marvin
Vettori
at UFC Fight Night 209 on Sept. 3, Robert
Whittaker
returned to Australia feeling confident that a
trilogy with Israel
Adesanya
was on the horizon.

At least that was what his head coach, Alex Prates, told
Sherdog.com when asked about the alternate possibility of having
“Bobby Knuckles” face Paulo Costa
at UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro.

“That fight would make no sense to Robert,” Prates said then. “To
tell you the truth, the UFC is planning a pay-per-view event in
Perth, Australia, in February, and we’re almost positive the UFC
will make the trilogy with Adesanya there.”

But after the UFC announced Adesanya’s next title defense would
come against Alex
Pereira
in the UFC 281 main event, the team’s plans had to be
recalculated.

“We had to face two possibilities,” Prates said. “If ‘Poatan’ beats
Adesanya, it would make sense for the UFC to give [Adesanya] an
immediate rematch, and that would put us in total inactivity for 12
months at least. And even if Adesanya wins clearly, he probably
wouldn’t return until July, which would also be a long period of
inactivity. Rhythm is something very important to Robert. He fought
twice this year. That’s why we accepted the offer of facing Costa
here at UFC 284.”

According to Prates, Whittaker is very motivated to face Costa
despite his opponent being below him in the UFC rankings.

“Costa is dangerous and has a lot of knockout power, but Robert
moves better, has better wrestling and also jiu-jitsu,” Prates
said. “I’m pretty certain that he will get an impressive win for
his people and get the chance to challenge for the belt against
against either Adesanya or Pereira.”

Prates would not pick a winner between Adesanya and Pereira in the
UFC 281 main event, however.

“Adesanya has this undefeated aura [at middleweight], and I hope
‘Poatan’ gets the win to take that undefeated aura from him. I
truly believe it’s going to be 50-50. The only certainty I have is
that someone will be knocked out in that fight,” he said.

Prates is optimistic about the success of the UFC’s return to
Australia, which could also include a lightweight championship bout
between Islam
Makhachev
and Alexander
Volkanovski
.

“I’m not sure about the stadium capacity, but I truly believe it
has the chance to beat the UFC gate record,” he said. “I’ve heard
that the ticket prices to Perth in the first week of February are
already very high.

“As far as the [potential] main event, I believe Volkanovski can
bring problems to Makhachev in a stand-up fight. If Alex can
survive the ground game of Makhachev in the first two rounds, I
would say that he will knock him out. The question will be his
ability to survive that takedown game in the beginning.”





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Paulo Costa Has Power Advantage, But Robert Whittaker Moves Better

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