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Robert Whittaker Takes Us Inside UFC Title Picture, More

Former UFC champion Robert Whittaker was a guest recently on Submission Radio to discuss the title picture and more.

Whittaker, coming off a win over Kelvin Gastelum, revealed why he was unable to accept a fight with champion Israel Adesanya for June.

Why he doesn’t think his win over Gastelum was his best performance, Michael Bisping calling it a “masterclass”

“Yeah, well, I’m very happy about that, because I don’t think it is. I don’t think it is my best performance. I didn’t feel like I was giving my best performance when I was in there. I feel there is a lot more to come. And if people are applauding my work now and my last fight, then buckle up (laughs).”

When Rob was offered the June 12th fight against Israel Adesanya

“I found out about the title shot directly after my fight, and they said, you know, fight in June, Adesanya, blah, blah, blah. And I had just come off a hard five-round fight, I had some injuries I had to deal with. My hands were busted, my shin was busted. And I have to go home, and then I have two weeks of quarantine. And yeah, it just wasn’t possible. They probably had a feeling that was a decision I would come to. I can’t help but feel this was a little ploy on Adesanya’s camp’s behalf as well as more than anything else really. But yeah, it just wasn’t possible. But I’m more than happy to just chill out and wait on the winner of that fight to happen and then I fight the winner. Because the title is my next fight. That’s the fight that’s happening for me. And yeah, I guess we’ll wait and see what happens with that fight.”

“Israel wanted to fight at that date. That’s fine. I physically cannot make that date. My injuries won’t heal in time. I won’t get out of quarantine. I won’t have a camp in time. And it’s a title fight, it’s not something you can rush. So, I physically cannot make that date. He really wants to fight that date? Vettori, jump in, have a go, mate. You know what I mean? And then I’ll just fight the winner later on in the year. I’m cool just chilling and waiting. I’ll train with that date in mind, and yeah, let’s see.”

On going into the Kelvin fight with torn ligaments in his hand

“I tore the ligaments in my hand that week as well. Yeah, before the fight. And it’s all on record and everything, UFC know that as well. And so, I need to go home and I need to do rehab on that, because let me tell ya, fighting isn’t the best way to rehab a hand.”

If Rob considered withdrawing from the Kelvin fight due to his hand injuries 

I don’t know. When I first did it there was all the initial concerns and everything of going into a fight with one hand. I’ve fought too many times with one hand and I know hard it is, and it is a nightmare. But honestly, the UFC were great in getting me to see doctors that I needed to see and managing it the way I did. And honestly, once the adrenalin kicked in, it didn’t hold me back too much. Plus, I was there. I was there, I wanted to fight. And yeah, this is what I do, this how I provide. And I had made the trip, the isolation was coming, there was no way I was leaving Vegas without a paycheck.”

How exactly the UFC offered him the title shot

“It was just from the octagon on my way to the back that my coach came up to me and spoke to me about it. It was all just on the go.”

“I don’t speak to the UFC directly, I have my coaching stuff and my managers to deal with that. So, more or less the only thing that I had to say to them, they told me what it was, and I said there’s no way I can. And they said, I know that already, but just letting you know. And then they passed the message on. But it’s fine the way it’s working out, because if they want to fight in the meantime, that’s fine. I’ll just get my body looked at and then I’ll start training, and then I’ll be ready for the winner of that one.”

On being a company man and having nothing to gain from the Kelvin fight and taking it anyway

“I assume everything is good with the UFC. I have been a great company man of late, and I think they should be happy.”

“I have tried to do everything within my power to do certain things. The change of opponent from Costa to Gastelum. I honestly had nothing to gain in that fight, right? Like, if I was one of those guys that likes climbing the ladder in a specific route, you know, finagling the system, if you would, to try and get as close to the title shot as I could, then I wouldn’t have taken that fight and I would have been vouching for some other stuff. But no, I’ve done everything in my power to fight. I still, I do want that fight. I have announced that loud and clear. Everyone knows I want that fight. Everyone is of the same mindset, that that is the next fight that’s going to happen for myself. So, I guess I just have to get my body right, train, and worry about the next one.”

On having his mind set on having the title shot in his next fight

“Nothing in this world is guaranteed, mate, but I’ve done my work. I did my time right now. I’ve earned the right for that title shot. My next fight is for the title. That’s my right.”

“Who else is there left to beat?”

“I’ve fought more top five dudes than like anyone else.”

On Adesanya/Whittaker 2 needing to take place in a stadium in Aus or NZ

“That’s another thing. With the timeline of me healing and them resolving their fights and then camping again, I think with the way the numbers have been looking in New Zealand and Australia, that bringing out a packed stadium here in this part of the world is the only smart thing to do. I think it’s such an opportunity we could be hitting.”

If people are underrating Vettori’s chances of beating Adesanya in their rematch

I don’t think they’re sleeping on him, I think he’s just getting overshadowed with Adesanya. I think Adesanya is very good. I think he’s only gotten better since that last fight, and I think it’s a hard fight for Vettori. That’s not to say he can’t win. I think Vettori’s strong enough and tough enough to turn this into a real dog fight, into a fight that Adesanya doesn’t want it to go. So, I don’t think they’re sleeping on Vettori, I just think it is what it is. Like, Adesanya’s very good, he’s beaten Vettori once before.”

On Adesanya possibly losing his “invincibility bubble” after losing to Jan much like Anderson Silva and others in the past

I think the effect of him losing his invincibility bubble will have less of an effect on him and more of an effect on the people he versus.”

“Because hype is real, and there are certain fighters that ride hype and there are certain fighters than believe in it and feel the effects of it. Like Anderson Silva when he was running through people, he had that aura of invincibility. And then once he got beat, people realized he can be beat, which raised… it broke their limiting, their own self-ceiling, their own self-limiters when fighting him.”

On not being one of the fighters who’s affected by Adesanya’s hype

“I don’t believe in the hype and that sort of stuff. I do believe in it, but it doesn’t affect me very much. Let’s be honest, every bloke I’ve fought up to today have been riding the biggest hype train in the world (laughs). Brunson, Hall, Cannonier, Till. Like, it was just silly. But there are fighters that it does affect more so than others, and I feel Israel’s aura of invincibility did pop when he lost to Jan, for whatever reason.”

Leaning towards Adesanya in the rematch with Vettori

“If I was a betting man, probably Adesanya. You have to be. He’s the favorite for a reason.”

On being fueled by being the best in the division and not necessarily the champ

That’s why I do it, that’s the thing that gives me little kicks. That’s the thing that makes me enjoy the game, is reflecting on all my hard fights and beating them all and winning them all. I love that. That’s why I do this. It’s not to be the champ, it’s not to wear the belt, it’s to be at the top, it’s to look back at a trail of destruction and smile.”

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