Title-Worthy Whittaker Smart Enough To Beat Pereira

MMA News

Title-Worthy Whittaker Smart Enough To Beat Pereira

Photo by Brendon Thorne/Zuffa LLC

Robert Whittaker was recently left hanging after his UFC 284 Paulo Costa clash fell apart.

The former Middleweight champion isn’t getting a replacement for the Feb. 11, 2023, Perth, Australia homecoming event. Instead, he’ll look to return whenever best suits him in the coming months.

Sept. 2022’s UFC Paris event hosted Whittaker’s rebound victory after last fighting for the title in Feb. 2022, defeating Marvin Vettori via an impressive unanimous decision (watch highlights). Many in the community felt “The Reaper” had done enough in his prior rematch with Israel Adesanya to become champion, but the title has since changed hands, belonging to Alex Pereira. For Whittaker’s last opponent, Vettori, he wouldn’t disagree with Whittaker getting the next shot.

“Whittaker, I don’t know what they’re gonna make him do,” Vettori told The Schmo. “He’s beating a lot of people, he beat me the last fight. The dude is solid, we’ll see.

“I think he deserves the title shot, too,” he added. “I think Whittaker can do it, yeah. Because of the grappling a little bit. He’s a smart fighter, man.”

Pereira claimed the UFC Middleweight title this past Nov. 2022, dethroning reigning kingpin, Adesanya, via a comeback fifth-round technical knockout (watch highlights). The expectation is for the pair to run back things back sometime in the near future.

If so, Vettori sees the same result and ultimately hopes a potential upcoming win over Roman Dolidze at UFC 286 on March 11, 2023, can get him back toward title contention.

“If they fight with ‘Izzy’ again, he’ll beat ‘Izzy’ again,” Vettori said. “I don’t know, I feel like he had a mission on beating him and now he doesn’t really even [care]. I mean, of course, he cares cause everybody cares about money, but he knows it’s risky to fight anybody that has very good grappling. I don’t mind him, I like him. So, if I have a chance to fight him, I definitely want to fight him. I have to do a couple of fights before him and we’ll see what happens, I’m not even stressing about it.

“Definitely, I would like to fight him and I think I’ll do very well. We’ll see,” he concluded.