It’s been nearly seven months since the former UFC middleweight champion lost to rival Israel Adesaniya in a very close contest – and the 31-year-old Australian is excited to step back in the octagon and remind the world why he’s a No. 1 contender.
Italian brawler Vettori is notoriously tough and has never been kicked out in the UFC – but Whitaker plans to change that statistic.
Robert Whitaker (pictured kicking off Calvin Gastelum in 2021) is back against Italian Marvin Vettori at UFC Paris this weekend
Whitaker believes the key to knocking out Vettori is his use of skillful, fast and powerful boxing, which he displayed against Israel Adesanya (pictured)
“I’m working a lot on getting my punches right, making everything as efficient, fast and powerful as possible,” Whitaker explained to Daily Mail Australia.
‘The key is to just keep them on your chin. I believe it will be a good night if I can shoot him in the chin.’
Over the past year, Whitaker has been perfecting his boxing skills with super-welterweight megastar Tim Tziu and Australia’s greatest fighting coach, the great Johnny Lewis.
There were reports in July that Whitaker could take on newly crowned Australian cruiserweight world champion Jay Ophetia in a $5m mega-fight – but talks failed.
Italian Marvin Vettori reacts after victory against Paulo Costa
Whitaker said, ‘I don’t think it’s going to happen, but if the money is there, I’m not against it.’ ‘Money speaks, as they say. I am in the business of fighting and I will go where there is money.’
Whitaker has lost only two fights at middleweight in the UFC, both of which were against his fierce rival Israel Adesanya. He believes he can win the third – he needs to keep running to win to secure a title in the meantime.
‘I’d like to be a winner – but it doesn’t keep me up at night. It’s not really healthy to want something that isn’t yours. I’m all for progress, though. I am a fan of progress.
If the money is right Whitaker hasn’t ruled out a fight against recently crowned Australian cruiserweight world champion Jay Ophetia
“The idea of defeating Vettori to win another title is what drives me into this sport. Gamers understand.
Whitaker is the favorite to take out the Italian in Paris and the Australian thinks the bout will be an interesting contrast.
‘We are very different stylistically. It will come down to who can advance the game plan over the other. It will be important for me to set the pace and control the fight.”
The 31-year-old believes that he is just at his peak as a fighter and is confident that he can impose his will on his opponent.
Whitaker is trying to set the pace and control the action when he meets Vettori later this week
‘I hope he keeps trying to move on and I keep hitting him. This is the best case. He won’t be able to take any more punishment and will just leave.’
Whitaker’s clash with Vettori will serve as the co-main event of the UFC’s first trip to France, with Australian heavyweight brawler Tai Tuivasa headlining a showdown with French star Cyril Gain.
A win for Tuivasa would undoubtedly give him a shot at heavyweight King Francis Nganou.