Image Credit: UFC / YouTube


Robert Whittaker Discusses Keeping His Mental Balance, Kelvin Gastelum

Former UFC champion Robert Whittaker is ready to get back to action.

Whittaker will face Kelvin Gastelum after a planned fight with Paulo Costa fell through. He talked with “Submission Radio” recently to discuss that, overcoming his own OCD and more.

Why he initially took the Paulo Costa fight

I think what it is, is just due to the division and the way everything was mixed up and the way that Izzy was moving up and it was just, it would have been a long time for me to wait on the sidelines, not working, not earning any income. And I’m in the fight game, I’m in this industry to fight and to get things done. So, I wanted to work, I wanted to do something. I didn’t want to sit out.”

“I’m happy to fight anyone, to be honest. That’s the game I’m in. That’s my job. I enjoy doing what I do for a living. The way it came about, everything was a bit confusing. But we got there, and I was happy for the fight.”

“I didn’t know what was rumour and what was real. I didn’t know who I was fighting or what I was fighting for, what I was doing for the longest time. And then when it happened, there was a shuffle with the weeks, and now there’s a shuffle with the opponents. So, it’s a little messy, but we’re still here, we’re still here, and it looks like we’re gonna have a fight that night.”

On being upset with Costa falling out and the uncertainty of what was next

“I found out through my manager and actually through my coach. And it’s just, my initial OCD flared up, cause I hate last minute changes and I hate things like this changing. And I was really upset for a little bit. But I got over it. And the work’s been done, the camp’s been great. I’m fit. And the idea of not fighting on the date is just silly. I’ve got to earn my break, I’ve got to earn some money, I’ve got to do my job. So, I’m going to get in there and I’m gonna do that.”

Why he didn’t wait to possibly fight Adesanya next

“It’s something that could have been a possibility, but Adesanya just fought, and who knows who he wants to fight next. I just don’t want to wait that long. I want to fight, I want to get better, I want to earn [money and] do my job. I want to get in there and work. And yeah, I’ve got a lot of things on. I don’t want to waste time waiting around. I hate that.”

On Kelvin being the new opponent

“There weren’t a lot of options because a lot of the middleweight division is tied up. And also, the ones that aren’t tied up just don’t make sense. So, Gastelum really was the only one that was a potential possibility. I kind of owe a fight to him anyway, right? So, it’s a good fight. There’s obviously some glaring changes that I have to make, but I still have a month until the fight. And yeah, like I said, the camp was great, the fitness is on point. Everything is looking really good.”

“I just gotta be prepared for a fight that could go anywhere. I gotta be prepared for Gastelum’s power, for his pop, for his subtle distance control, and just be ready for that wrestling that’s always there as well.”

On Kelvin ranking up there as one of his toughest fights

“I think he’s one of my hardest fights to date. I think he is a very good fighter. Yeah, I think people look too much into his recent losses and it takes away from how good he actually is.”

“That’s the game when you’re at the top of the food chain, at the top of the charts. Everyone is a hard fight. And they’re just gonna give you more and more hard fights. And you can’t win them all.”

“I’m preparing and expecting the best Kelvin Gastelum. I think he’s a very dangerous fighter and he’s a dangerous fight. Just because he has quite a complete skillset. I need to go into this fight with that approach, and I will, and I’m preparing for that.”

On timing being one of the reasons he didn’t take the boxing match with retired NRL star Paul Gallen, and being 100% down for it in the future

“If the schedule permits it and the timelines work and the money’s right, I’m a hundred percent down for that. I’m in the fight industry, you know, it’s just another job.”

How seriously he would take Paul as a challenge

“I think all fights need to be taken as a serious contest. So, I’d definitely approach it as such. But I think it would be a nice change and shift from the UFC and the stakes, if you would.”

“It’d be a very different dynamic. Like I mentioned, the stakes would be different.”

If the UFC would permit it

“I’m sure it’d be possible. We just gotta find a timeline that would work for both us and then the payout, right?”

“I wouldn’t say we’re friends, but he’s just doing his thing, and that’s cool. If we can work it out, I’ll do it. Why not?”

On Paul Gallen’s skills as a boxer and how the fight would go

“I think he’s a tough guy, and he’s been working boxing for a long time. But I think if our gloves meet, then I’m just going to be too much for him. I’m too quick. I’ll make a shift to boxing and I’ll just focus on it, and I think I’ll just be too much.”

What a win over Kelvin Gastelum would say about him, given that he’s already beaten Cannonier and Till

“I think the statement’s already made. It’s just, the Reaper’s going nowhere. I’m here to stay and I’m a dangerous fighter for everyone. The entire division knows that. So yeah, I’m happy just doing my thing, running my own path, my own journey, sort of thing.”

On Israel saying that Till gets the next shot if he wins

“Yeah, it is what it is. All the power’s in Adesanya’s hands at the moment. So, it is what it is. I just gotta win the next fight, worry about it after.”

“He did beat me and he’s the champ. The power’s in his hands. I’m not gonna dwell on it too much. All I’m gonna do is just keep my head down, focus on that next fight and try to get that win, and just keep winning. That’s goal. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not worrying about too much else.”

On fighting all the top contenders without getting a title shot

“Certainly, it’d look like that. I’m doing all the right things to line myself up to that, but we’ll have to wait and see what comes about.”

On Israel losing to Jan

“I think it was a good fight. I thought Jan fought really well. I thought that the game plan was quite well put together with Jan. And yeah, I thought it was a close fight, but I think Jan certainly did enough to win that fight and control it.”

“There’s a couple of things. It didn’t add any confidence. It’s a hard fight regardless, and every fight’s different. Especially when you get different opponents and different match-ups. But he can be beaten. He can be beaten.”

On his relationship with Adesanya

“He’s just, we just rub each other the wrong way. We don’t really get along. And that’s fine. You don’t need to get along with everybody.”

On being more beloved in Australia

“I’m sure it annoys him, just because of the fact we don’t get a long.”

Where he’d like the Adesanya rematch to happen

“Melbourne. It’s home.”

“Maybe. He’s the champ, he can pick where he wants to fight. So, most likely it would be in Auckland. Auckland’s cool too. I like that too. I have a lot of family there.”

Prediction for how he beats Kelvin

“I think I can just put him away. I think I finish him in the two, three maybe.”

  • Categories

  • Leave a Comment