It’s becoming a familiar routine for former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. A Sydney hotel room, a bunch of media calls and a room service menu following a successful return from UFC’s Fight Island.
“The only thing I’m thinking about all day is the video game I’m playing — I’m crushing the video games at moment — and what I’m potentially going to eat for lunch and dinner,” Whittaker told ESPN from his mandatory 14-day quarantine.
“Mate, I am loving it. It’s a good heap of fun, although I’m looking forward to getting out of here and seeing my family.”
Whittaker’s win over Jared Cannonier at UFC 254 capped a strong return to the octagon for the Australian, following a difficult 2019. It was a performance born from a plan that appears to have been executed to perfection.
“It was a good fight, I had a great camp, we put together a game plan diligently over the course of the camp and I followed that game plan to a T and it was a flawless result honestly.
“I was stoked it was shorter. I remember vividly thinking to myself in the third round, ‘man this would suck if it was five rounds.'”
The clamor for a rematch with Israel Adesanya grows louder with each passing week, with Whittaker believing that a title shot in his next fight is a “pretty sure thing,” and UFC president Dana White calling the prospect “very appealing” in the aftermath of UFC 254, something that amuses the Australian.
“It’s funny that Dana says it’s appealing because he’s the one that said the fight between me and Jared was for the contender spot. I think he wasn’t expecting me to win,” Whittaker said.
“It’s the fight that makes sense. I know [Adesanya] doesn’t want it, but I do and I think it will be fun. I think he’s a puzzle that I just want to work at and I want to try and beat. I don’t know how I’ll do it because he’s so good, man. He’s so bloody good. And it may be a repeat of what happened last time but god I wanna try mate!”
“March, April would be great timingwise for me [for my next fight]. That’s the timeline period I’m looking at with a newborn due in January and I want to be there for that, and not be focusing on dieting and a camp and all of that stuff.
“He’s the only guy that I want to fight, because I lost to him, and I don’t like losing to people.”
And while all eyes are on Whittaker’s future, he will look back at being a part of UFC 254 with pride.
“It’s an honor to be a part of [Khabib Nurmagomedov’s] last card. He’s a legend of the sport and he’s done it all. He’s had a flawless career. To be a part of it was very meaningful,” Whittaker said.
“In terms of the best ever, he’d have to be up there. The only person I think would come close is Georges St-Pierre, I know Jon Jones is upset about it all, but he’s had too many distractions taking away from what he’s done in the game, granted I think he’s probably the best fighter ever.
“Khabib and Georges SP have stayed true to the path. They’ve been perfect role models for the sport and to me that’s just as important as anything else when talking about the greatest martial artists ever.”