Robert Whittaker trades blows with Israel Adesanya during UFC 243 at Marvel Stadium. Picture: AAP Image/Michael Dodge
Robert Whittaker trades blows with Israel Adesanya during UFC 243 at Marvel Stadium. Picture: AAP Image/Michael Dodge

Whittaker’s surprise reaction to defeat

Robert Whittaker has admitted to feeling "a little relieved" after losing the UFC middleweight title, yet is already planning his pathway back to the belt - starting with a proposed fight against Englishman Darren Till in London early next year.

Only a month after being knocked out by New Zealand prodigy Israel Adesanya, Whittaker has told The Daily Telegraph he wants to fight Till at London's O2 Arena in March.

 

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Robert Whittaker trades blows with Israel Adesanya during UFC 243 at Marvel Stadium. Picture: AAP Image/Michael Dodge
Robert Whittaker trades blows with Israel Adesanya during UFC 243 at Marvel Stadium. Picture: AAP Image/Michael Dodge

 

 

The 28-year-old Sydneysider also opened up on his rollercoaster reign as Australia's first ever UFC champion, which included fighting just once in the past 18 months - and twice withdrawing from homesoil blockbusters - due to a horror run of serious illnesses.

Still, so big a draw was Whittaker for UFC 243, a record crowd of 57,127 filled Melbourne's Marvel Arena on the same day as the NRL grand final.

Yet after being dropped in the last seconds of round one, the hometown hero was then finished by strikes in round two.

 

 

Robert Whittaker in the hands of the referee after being knocked out in the second round. Picture: Michael Klein.
Robert Whittaker in the hands of the referee after being knocked out in the second round. Picture: Michael Klein.

 

 

Asked how he felt the morning after the Adesanya loss, Whittaker conceded: "If I'm going to be honest with you, I was a little bit relieved.

"The last couple of years, they've been taxing.

"Really taxing.

"And there were also pressures that came with (the title) that distracted me in the lead up."

Asked to expand, Whittaker continued: "Certainly the amount of media that I got pushed into being champ - which I understand is part of the deal - there was a lot and I let myself get too distracted.

"Media commitments, expectations from certain parties, and from myself … I was spreading myself too thin.

 

 

 

 

 

"Doing things because I thought I should be rather than actually wanting to.

"They're two very different things which I've definitely come to terms with since the fight.

"So as much as losing sucks - and believe me losing in front of your home crowd the way I did, it sucks - I honestly feel that for my career it's one of the best things could have happened for me."

While Whittaker says he will fight Adesanya for the title again - "I'm not going anywhere" - his immediate focus is Till, who beat American Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 244 last Sunday.

Already, the UFC has hinted at a London card in March, with Whittaker now hopeful "the stars align" and allow the pair to headline in 2020.

"That's the fight I'm currently interested in," the Aussie confirmed. "Plus I've never been to Europe before, so what better reason to go?"

Elsewhere, Whittaker revealed that while he had yet to watch a replay of the Adesanya loss - "I'm still too salty" - there was nothing the Kiwi had surprised him with.

 

 

 

Robert Whittaker says he zigged when he should have zagged at UFC 243. Picture: AAP Image/Michael Dodge
Robert Whittaker says he zigged when he should have zagged at UFC 243. Picture: AAP Image/Michael Dodge

 

"I just rushed a little too much," Whittaker conceded of his KO loss. "I got caught up in the fight too much, got swept up in it.

"I took strikes to him and felt like I was having success but, you know, I wasn't covering up when I should have.

"I was fighting too one dimensional."

Quizzed on suggestions he should have wrestled more in round two, Whittaker said: "Yeah … and maybe I would have had the fight gone on longer.

"It's one of those things.

"It was his night, not mine. That's it.

"I zigged when I should've zagged."

News Corp Australia


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