UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker has won his last few fights with his striking, but striking certainly isn’t his only skill. In fact, Whittaker is so well-rounded that his coach Alex Prates considers him a “better version of” Georges St-Pierre.
“Maybe you’ll see Robert Whittaker using a style that I think is the one that suits him better but he never really needed it because it was always comfortable for him on the feet for most of his fights,” Prates told Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting. “With Yoel Romero, for example, it would have been stupid to try to take him down. But Robert has great wrestling and great timing. I honestly think Robert is a better version of GSP. And we might see this now.”
Whittaker is currently gearing up for a title unification fight with interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Given that Adesanya is one of the most experienced and dangerous strikers in MMA at present, it should come as no surprise that Prates would like to see Whittaker use his wrestling skill.
“I think that Robert is technically superior on the ground and with his wrestling,” Prates said of Whittaker. “I won’t say Robert’s striking is superior, but it’s definitely on the same level of Adesanya’s. I see many people saying that Adesanya is a better striker and I think that’s really unfair. If Robert hasn’t proved yet that he’s one of the best strikers of the division, I don’t know what else he needs to do.
“The main difference of Robert using his wrestling and ground game with Israel is that he doesn’t depend on the ground, if that makes sense. He can take Israel to the ground, but if Israel starts to scramble and gets back up, he doesn’t need to spend energy there. Let him get back up. That’s the difference from a jiu-jitsu fighter or a wrestler that depends on keeping him on the ground. That might get Israel worried about the takedowns as well, which makes it easier to land combinations on the feet. And also get him tired.”
Wherever the fight unfolds, Prates assures Robert Whittaker will be well-prepared. In fact, the coach says the UFC middleweight champion is sharper than he’s ever been before.
“I’m not trying to sell anything here, but he’s more fit than every other fight he’s been to,” he said. “He’s way better technically than he was when he fought Romero, and I’ve never seen him so strong and in such good shape. His conditioning is phenomenal. He won’t get tired in this fight. He’s super confident, and that’s what makes him a champion.”
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This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/23/2019.