UFC 243 News: Robert Whittaker opens up on his future, Chael Sonnen's praise, MMA being treated like a circus event and more
Robert Whittaker will enter the Octagon again at UFC 243 after being out of action for more than a year. The Reaper has had his fair share of struggles with various injuries and has thankfully managed to keep himself fit for the upcoming fight against Israel Adesanya.
Whittaker vs. Gastelum was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 234 in February earlier this year, however, Whittaker was forced to pull out hours before the fight after suffering from an abdominal hernia.
During a recent media interaction, Whittaker was asked about how he felt going into fight week.
"Yes, as you said, the last couple of years have been a bit up and down, but I feel absolutely amazing. On the back of that emergency surgery that I had to undergo, I just doubled down on my health, I've really, really paying close attention on how I’m feeling, how I’m performing and just my overall health. And on the back of that, I've just become stronger, bigger for it."
He was also asked about Chael Sonnen, who claimed that Adesanya vs. Whittaker was a fight to determine the greatest fighter currently in the UFC.
Whittaker felt honored by the praise and stated that for him, it's just another day in the office at UFC 243.
"You know, I’m honored. Honestly, I’m honored. Like you said, honestly he's a legendary fighter that’s been around for a long time, he's done a lot of things. To hear praise like that is, yes, is very, very flattering. This fight for me doesn’t mean anything more than a normal fight. This fight to me is just me getting in there and getting back to work after a long layoff. And I’m hungry - I’m hungry to get in there, I’m hungry to get fighting again."
Whittaker also shared his views on a section of the press in Australia and New Zealand still treating MMA as a circus event.
He said that changing mindsets is a slow process and that the general perception is gradually changing for good with MMA being perceived as a mainstream sport.
"Definitely. Definitely. Honestly it is a slow process. It’s very hard to change people’s minds, you know, it’s very, very hard. But I do feel that we have - in the mainstream sports market it’s definitely - like the sport itself - is definitely spreading into the common household. People know what the UFC is, people know UFC athletes now. It’s been on this roll ever since it landed here and I don't see it slowing down."
Whitaker also shared his roadmap for the future and wants to fight more regularly going forward.
"Yes, yes definitely. I would personally like to fight a lot more. Yes, I’d love to be more active and to be able to get in there and get to it more often. Obviously, the last couple fights have been hard and as you said, I've had some weird illnesses, they're not like little injuries where I've pulled out because I've hurt my knee; I've gotten the chicken pox one time, and then I had emergency bowel surgery the second time. It’s just - it is strange. But I would like to fight more regularly after this."
Robert Whittaker is a slight underdog going into the Middleweight title unification bout against the undefeated Israel Adesanya.
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