Robert Whittaker may not be the UFC middleweight champion, but he nonetheless believes he’s the most dangerous 185-pound fighter on the planet.
At UFC Paris, Whittaker turned in another brilliant performance, outclassing Marvin Vettori en route to winning a unanimous decision. The win cemented him as the No. 2 middleweight in the world and, according to the former champion, showed that he is superior to champion Israel Adesanya in some respects.
“I’m the most dangerous man in the division,” Whittaker said at the post-fight press conference. “Israel’s the champ. He beat me twice, hats off to him for that. He’s a great fighter, he really is. And I think stylistically he’s a great fighter, but I still think I’m the most dangerous man in the division, because I win. I win a lot and I make people hate fighting. I take the fight out of them, because that’s what I do. I get in there and I get to work.”
Whittaker has lost twice to Adensanya, most recently coming up short in a rematch at UFC 271 this past February. Those two losses put “Bobby Knuckles” in a difficult position in the division, with a third fight seemingly unlikely any time soon.
Whittaker maintains that if and when a trilogy bout happens, it will go different than their first two encounters, and his win over Vettori proves it.
“He knocked me out in the first one, and the second one was a really close decision that, I’m not butt-hurt about it, but on another day it could have been my win,” Whittaker said. “Mentally, that’s massive. It’s very hard to explain how it feels to get knocked out and lose your belt like that. It sucks. There’s a bit of a learning process afterward, a bit of a picking the pieces up process, and doubts and whatnot. I conquered most of them before that second fight, and in that second fight, I conquered the rest of them, and I think you could see that in this fight today.”
Whittaker may not have to fight his way back to a third Adesanya fight, though. The middleweight champion is set to defend his title against Alex Pereira at UFC 281, and since Pereira has already beaten Adesanya twice in kickboxing, many believe there could be a new champion soon. Should that happen, Whittaker could easily step in to face Pereira next, but he’s not so sure that will be an option.
“[Adesanya] is very good – he’s very good,” Whittaker said. “I think his style of fighting, he’s a very good defensive fighter, and he has the physical attributes to do it, as well as the talent and the craft. He’s got the eyes, the head for it. He’s good at what he does. He can avoid danger like nobody’s business, and that makes him hard to dethrone, especially if you go to the points. He’s very hard to dethrone.
“I think Pereira is interesting, because they’ve fought before, and the small gloves add some element that’s different from their kickboxing fights. And Pereira’s huge. He’s got the range and the reach, and he’s very offensive with it, so we’re going to see that. But they’re wearing small gloves. He hit him in the kickboxing fight. Small gloves change things. You see it every night. The small gloves change fights.”
If Pereira is unable to dethrone Adesanya, that means Whittaker is likely still some ways off of a middleweight title shot, and that’s OK with the former champion. With an event in Australia in the works for early next year, Whittaker is more than happy to continue his climb back to the belt with a fight on home soil.
“I hear there’s rumors of an Australia card, and I would love to fight in my backyard,” Whittaker said. “I think that’s the next move for me. As for who I’m fighting, I’m a fiend for progress. I want to forward. I’m hunting that gold still, so I’m always going to be lurking around, just destroying whoever the put in front of me until I get a chance to gobble up that gold.”