Australia's UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has praised the performance of his next challenger, Israel Adesanya, but says the Nigerian-born Kiwi is "hittable".
With Whittaker recovering from a recent operation, Adesanya claimed the interim title with a unanimous points win over American Kelvin Gastelum in Atlanta, Georgia, yesterday.
Gastelum was meant to fight Whittaker in Melbourne in February but the champion was rushed to hospital for abdominal surgery on the morning of the scheduled bout.
Instead the American slugged it out in an epic five-round contest with Adesanya.
Whittaker said he would be happy to fight Adesanya in August provided the confident New Zealander recovered well from his torrid fight.
"He showed a lot of heart. He got hit a little bit and came back," said Whittaker.
"He was very accurate, with high volume. It was a very impressive win.
Whittaker believed Adesanya's style presented opportunities he could exploit.
"He's hittable. I'm better at striking (than Gastelum). I'm going to punch him and I am very, very good at it, very fast and hit hard and he doesn't like getting hit."
Whittaker said a bout between Abesanya and himself would be one of the biggest combat sports events ever held in Australasia.
A venue has still be to determined but Whittaker said he would welcome fighting in Australia, despite injury forcing him out of his last two scheduled fights on home soil.