Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker isn’t looking to remain on the sidelines for long.
After suffering a second-round knockout to Israel Adesanya this past weekend at UFC 243, Whittaker hopes he will be medically cleared for full contact training sooner rather than later.
“I’m not looking to take a long time off,” Whittaker said on his “Grange TV” podcast. “Obviously I have to give myself the appropriate amount of rest time for my brain, but I want to get back in there, and I want to just get back to work.
“If my health is all on point, on check, February, March next year. That’s not out of the ordinary. I think that would be good.”
Despite being dropped twice, once at the end of the first round, then the finishing blow in the second, Whittaker has offered up zero excuses for his loss. In fact, he says it’s the best he’s ever felt and believes he just got caught.
“I felt great going in, I felt great walking out, I felt great in there,” Whittaker said. “I felt great trading with him. I didn’t feel like I was getting out struck. I felt good, but he’s a great fighter. His timing is on point, and I was trying to close that gap to get in there on him, and I got caught at the end of the first, which set the tone for the second. I got back to what I was doing, and I got caught in the second round, as well.”
No stranger to setbacks, Whittaker (20-5 MMA, 11-3 UFC) was able to bounce back from two losses in a row early in his career with nine wins in a row that ultimately led to him capturing the middleweight title.
“People may not know this, but I’ve lost before,” Whittaker said. “I’ve lost before, and I’ve came back better, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. I’m under no illusion that I was unbeatable; everybody can beat everybody on the given day, and I’m just going to lick my wounds, I’m going to get back on the mats on Monday, and I’m just going to start training again and try to just beat the next guy.”
Whittaker admits that wrestling Adesanya might have been a good strategy, but he just felt comfortable in the standup. That doesn’t mean it’s not part of his arsenal; Whittaker just hasn’t shown it yet.
“My wrestling game is something I’ve been wanting to incorporate in my fights for a long time, and I just felt so good standing last fight that I didn’t really incorporate it,” Whittaker said. “You may be seeing it in the near future; we’ll see. I’ll open a lot of people’s eyes I think.”