To make the dream happen, these two Australasian fighters must get past two major obstacles at UFC 234 in Melbourne today.
AP Photo/John Locher
Whittaker meets Gastelum, Adesanya-Silva at UFC 234
(Associated Press) - February 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Israel Adesanya can already imagine fighting Robert Whittaker for the UFC middleweight title later this year in a huge stadium full of roaring Australian fans.

To make the dream happen, these two Australasian fighters must get past two major obstacles at UFC 234 in Melbourne today.

Before Whittaker (20-4) defends his belt against American contender Kelvin Gastelum (15-3) in the main event, Adesanya (15-0) gets the biggest fight of his life against Anderson Silva (34-8), the Brazilian mixed martial arts trailblazer.

Four of the world’s best 185-pounders will be showcased atop the card at Rod Laver Arena, but two are fighting closer to home. Adesanya was born in Nigeria before moving to New Zealand as a teenager, and Whittaker is a New Zealand-born Australian.

Although Adesanya is 17 months older than Whittaker, he is considered one of the UFC’s most tantalizing title contenders, with a spectacular fighting style that reminds many of the 43-year-old Silva in his prime. Even after Silva’s recent losing streak and doping problems, Adesanya is grateful for the opportunity to go up against a giant.

“I saw the odds this week, and I was like, ‘Man, y’all must have forgot,’” Adesanya said. “You don’t know that man over there, Anderson Silva. I think a lot of you new fans weren’t around during his reign. What it felt like. You might have come around the Rousey era or the McGregor era, but you don’t realize who this guy is. He brought me into this game. This guy inspired me to believe a skinny black guy can just come in here and (beat) everyone up.

“He brought me into this game, and for me, it’ll be an honor to take him out of the game.”

ANDERSON SILVA ISRAEL ADESANYA KELVIN GASTELUM MIXED MARTIAL ARTS ROBERT WHITTAKER UFC 234
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