At UFC 234 this Saturday night in Melbourne, Australia the UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker looks to officially pick up his first title defense.
UFC 213 took place in July 2017. The event was headlined by Whittaker and Yoel Romero who fought over the interim middleweight crown.
After a rough first two opening rounds where he suffered a torn MCL, Whittaker would rally in the final three to secure a clear 48-47 unanimous decision across all three judges cards to become the new champion.
Later promoted to undisputed champion after Georges St-Pierre vacated the undisputed title, Whittaker’s first title defense would come against Romero a year after their first encounter.
Unfortunately, due to Romero missing weight, the fight was turned into a non-title bout. But the action between the two still delivered.
This time around, the momentum was flipped as Whittaker firmly secured the opening two rounds but it was Romero who would turn things up in the closing three.
The Cuban former Olympian wouldn’t be able to secure the victory, but he came quite close in rounds three and five.
But now that ‘The Reaper’ has gone to hell and back with ‘The Soldier of God’, he doesn’t think people should be worried about the physical toll fighting Romero twice could have taken.
Well, he does, but it’s not to a negative degree.
“I feel they should be worried but for other reasons,” Whittaker said at a UFC 234 open workout (via MMA Fighting). “I feel that Yoel gave me his best in 10 rounds and couldn’t put me away. I went 10 rounds with a monster, no one else has.
“No, [Kelvin Gastelum’s] definitely not a step-down. I respect his abilities. He’s a dangerous fighter. He’s gonna come in there hungry, with nothing to lose. [That’s] one of the most dangerous combinations. So yeah, I’m giving him the respect he deserves. It is refreshing to have a different opponent other than Yoel but ya know, here we are.”
In the UFC 234 main event, Robert Whittaker will look to defend his title and his home country when he takes on the continuously evolving Kelvin Gastelum.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/6/2019