Former UFC middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker has addressed his future in the division following a second career loss to current titleholder, Israel Adesanya, and insists he plans to return by the end of the summer, earmarking Marvin Vettori as a potential opponent, as well as suggesting a future light heavyweight division climb.
Whittaker, a former undisputed middleweight champion, headlined UFC 271 earlier this month in a championship rematch against Adesanya, attempting to become a two-time titleholder and avenge his October 2019 knockout loss.
Suffering his second career loss the City Kickboxing staple, Whittaker dropped a close unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) defeat to the defending gold holder, turning in a much better performance this time around, as well as landing four successful takedowns against Adesanya.
The loss snapped a three-fight run of victories for Whittaker since his first loss to Adesanya – landing decision victories over Darren Till, common-foe, Kelvin Gastelum, as well as likely next title chaser, Jared Cannonier.
Whittaker, who noted his intentions to make a quickfire Octagon return before the culmination of the summer, admitted that a matchup with one-time title challenger, Vettori seemed like the next logical step for the duo in a pair to earn a third tilt against Adesanya.
“I think (Israel Adesanya) fights (Jared) Cannonier next, and then I think I fight someone in the division,” Robert Whittaker told Submission Radio. “I don’t know how many people are left. Probably (Marvin) Vettori? Yeah, he would have to be the highest-ranking next up, I believe. I’m looking forward to (fighting again soon). I’m going to enjoy a little break now and then get back in the gym, probably look for like a July, August sort of return. I think that will be good, because then I can get a third one in at the end of the year. So, I think that’s good timing for me. But, yeah, that’ very rough, very rough.”
Whittaker, who competed at the welterweight limit during his initial tenure with the UFC, admitted that a move to the light heavyweight class of 205lbs is a move that piques his interest, claiming that stylistically, a leap the weight class suits him.
“Yeah, I can definitely see myself fighting at 205lbs,” Robert Whittaker explained. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, because I have to cut to middleweight cutting sucks. So I think it might be fun. Obviously, I do understand the gravity of going up to 205. The bigger guys, the taller guys, longer reach, heavier-set guys, more power. But I think stylistically I have the style to move up to a heavier power division. But honestly, I’ll take it as it comes. It might be something fun to move up and have a dabble at, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
For Trento native, Vettori, the one-time middleweight title challenger managed to solidify his rank as the #3 ranked contender in the division back in October – landing a close unanimous judging win over fellow one-time championship chaser, Paulo Costa in a light heavyweight main event.
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