Robert Whittaker overcame his demons and the most stressful fight of his career to get his UFC career back on track and possibly set up another shot at the middleweight title.
Whittaker, Australia’s first UFC champion, downed Englishman Darren Till by unanimous decision over the weekend in his first bout since losing the belt against Israel Adesanya last October.
Back in the winners circle and with a renewed sense of purpose, Whittaker is now poised to once again enter top contender status at middleweight and the 29-year old has revealed the demons he carried into the fight with Till.
“Even if you aren’t letting doubt seep in, the doubt of why you lost the last fight are always there,” Whittaker said.
“The self-imposed pressure and doubt, they creep around your periphery. They’re always there. It’s a terrible feeling.
“I loved it (being back). It was a stressful fight, one of the most mentally exhausting I’ve ever had, but it’s great to be back.”
Whittaker was dropped early in the fight but came back to win the decision in a technical striking battle.
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Robert Whittaker was up against it early in his bout with Darren Till. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
He’s now got his eye on challenging the winner of Adesanya’s bout with hulking Brazilian Paulo Costa, scheduled for UFC 253 in September.
However, Whittaker won’t object if he’s forced to take on another top contender – like hard-hitting American Jared Cannonier or surging Swede Jack Hermansson – before he’s pitched back into a title fight.
“I would love a title fight, but it’s up to the UFC, it’s up to the bosses,” Whittaker said.
“I’ve never picked my fights, I didn’t tiptoe around up to the top the first time and I won’t do it the second time.
“One of the things I pride myself on is fighting anyone, anyone and everyone. And that’s one of the things I did on the way up, I didn’t tiptoe around, I never said no to a fight.
“You line them up and I knock them down, that was my approach and that’s still my approach.”
Robert Whittaker now has an eye on his next fight against Paulo Costa. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
The win over Till was an important rebound for Whittaker, who was dominated en route to his second-round knockout loss against Adesanya.
It was his first defeat in over five years but Whittaker believes he was nowhere near his best when he took on the New Zealander.
“I’d been feeling burnt out for a while, so I really had to force myself to train for the lead in. I really got caught in the sweep of things, and the rest is history,” Whittaker said.
“But I don’t want to take anything away from him – on the night, I showed up and I wasn’t there. And he took that. He was there, and that’s that.”
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Originally published asWhittaker’s ‘terrible’ demons before stressful win
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