Robert Whittaker is no stranger to climbing his way back to a title shot, and that’s exactly what he plans on doing.

Whittaker (23-6 MMA, 14-4 UFC) lost to middleweight champion Israel Adesanya for a second time at UFC 271 – this one on the judges’ scorecards in a fight he thought he won.

But Whittaker won’t be deterred. The former middleweight champ is ready to get back on the saddle and is targeting a summer return against a top contender. The fighter he thinks makes most sense for him is Marvin Vettori (17-4-1 MMA, 7-3-1 UFC), who also recently fell short against Adesanya.

“I think he fights Cannonier next, and then I think I fight someone in the division,” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “I don’t know how many people are left. Probably Vettori? Yeah, he would have to be the highest ranked next up, I believe. I’m looking forward to (fighting again soon). I’m going to enjoy my little break now and then get back in the gym, probably look for like a July, August sort of return. I think that will be good, because then I can get a third one in at the end of the year. So, I think that’s good timing for me. But, yeah, that’s very rough, very rough.”

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Robert Whittaker sees Israel Adesanya trilogy ‘inevitable’, disagrees with UFC 271 decision loss

After losing his middleweight title by knockout to Adesanya at UFC 243, Whittaker beat three top contenders en route to a rematch. Although things didn’t go his way when they ran things back, the fight was a lot more competitive, which has left Whittaker hopeful that a trilogy is bound to happen at some point.

Both Adesanya and UFC president Dana White weren’t sold on a potential third fight, but Whittaker plans on earning the No. 1 contender spot just like he did for the rematch.

“Nah, nah, I’m sure he doesn’t want to have a third fight,” Whittaker said. “It was a hard fight, and like, he knows the threat that I bring to it. Yeah, it doesn’t bother me, I’m not really worried about it. Just like the first time, I’m just gonna beat up everyone they put in front of me, and then there will be no one left. …

“It’s inevitable for another fight down the line. Yeah, there’s definitely going to be another fight down the line.”

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