Adesanya eyes Cannonier if he beats Whittaker: 'He deserves it'
Josh Hedges / UFC / Getty

Israel Adesanya already has his next opponent in mind after disposing of Paulo Costa at UFC 253.

The middleweight champion, who retained his title for the second time with a second-round TKO win Saturday night in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, said he's interested in facing Jared Cannonier should "The Killa Gorilla" beat Robert Whittaker next month at UFC 254.

"I already DM'd Jared Cannonier," Adesanya said in his postfight interview. "He's a hell of a dude, I love his energy, he's a beautiful man. And I said, 'You destroy Robert Whittaker and you're next.' He's the one I want to fight next ... He deserves it. If he beats Robert Whittaker handily and dominates him, he's next."

Adesanya said he believes Cannonier will finish Whittaker, a former 185-pound champion, when they square off Oct. 24 in Abu Dhabi. If his prediction turns out to be wrong, though, "The Last Stylebender" added he'd also be open to a rematch against Whittaker.

"I think Jared's going to dust Robert Whittaker and I look forward to fighting him," Adesanya said at the postfight press conference, according to MMA Fighting. "What we said in the DMs, he said he wants to get it done like Naruto and Sasuke. And I said, 'I look forward to that.' Yeah, I think he's gonna get it done. I'm rooting for him. But if Robert Whittaker wins and he wants to get knocked out a third time, I can make that happen, too."

Adesanya beat Whittaker to capture the undisputed title last October. He knocked him out in the second round after nearly finishing the Australian in the first.

Cannonier, the No. 3-ranked middleweight, has won three straight fights - including a stoppage of top contender Jack Hermansson - since moving down to the division in 2018.

No. 1-ranked Whittaker rebounded from his title loss with a decision win over Darren Till this past summer.

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Adesanya eyes Cannonier if he beats Whittaker: 'He deserves it'
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