PARIS – Robert Whittaker once again proved he won’t be vanquished from the middleweight title picture with a masterclass performance against Marvin Vettori in the UFC Fight Night 209 co-main event.
Whittaker (24-6 MMA, 15-4 UFC), a former UFC champ, took out another fellow top contender Saturday when he outworked Vettori (18-6-1 MMA, 8-4-1 UFC) to a unanimous decision at Accor Arena in France. It was a brilliant showing from “The Reaper” on the heels of losing his rematch to current titleholder Israel Adesanya at UFC 271 in February.
Getting the UFC title back around Whittaker’s waist is his sole goal at this stage of his career, and he said he won’t let anyone stand in his way.
“I’m a fiend for progress,” Whittaker told MMA Junkie and other reporters post-fight at UFC Fight Night 209. “I want to move forward. I’m hunting that gold still. So I’m always going to lurking around, just destroying who they put in front of me until I get a chance to gobble up that gold.
“I’m the most dangerous man in the division. Israel’s the champ. He beat me twice. Hat’s off to him for that. He’s a great fighter, he really is. And I think stylistically he’s a great fighter. 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 and I take the fight out of them. That’s what I do. I get in there and I get to work.”
Adesanya is currently scheduled to fight Alex Pereira in his next title defense at UFC 281 on Nov. 12 in New York. Whittaker said he’s indifferent to who emerges victorious so long as he gets to fight them, but admits his two defeats to Adesanya are something he wants to get back – and he thinks things would be different in a third encounter.
“He knocked me out the first one then the second one was a really close decision,” Whittaker said. “I’m not butt hurt about it, but on another day it could’ve been my win. 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 picking-up-of-the-pieces process. I conquered most of them.”
One thing Whittaker said is important to note is that he’s not going to wait around for the perfect opportunity. He just wants to participate in meaningful contests, and said he would like to compete in his home country of Australia if the UFC makes a trip there in early 2023.
“I hear there’s rumors of an Australia card,” Whittaker said. “I would love to fight in my backyard. I think that’s the next move for me.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 209.