Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is feeling confident ahead of his fight with surging contender Jared Cannonier.
Whittaker and Cannonier will collide in the co-main event of UFC 254 this Saturday night. Ahead of the matchup, the expectation is that Cannonier will earn a crack at UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya if he’s victorious. Adesanya has expressed interest in the fight, UFC President Dana White has echoed that interest, and it’s an opportunity that Cannonier is of course eager for.
Whittaker believes he’ll wind up playing the spoiler because he’s better than his foe in every facet of the game.
“Jared, right now, has the highest threat level of anyone because he’s the dude I have to fight,” Whittaker told the media in Abu Dhabi, where the fight will occur (via MMA Fighting). “I have had hard fights and I expect a very hard fight in Jared, Jared’s a very hard dude. I’m not sleeping on his skill set, I’m not sleeping on his power. He can beat me. I could lose. But I don’t think I will.”
“He’s very tough, he’s very powerful, he has knockout power, and he’s resilient, he never goes away,” Whittaker continued. “But honestly, I just think I’m better across the board. I think I can take this fight wherever I want it to go. I can lead this dance. I think I can sting him, I can knock him out. I can do anything I want and I have 15 minutes to do that, which is better than 25, so I’m looking forward to it.”
If Whittaker does defeat Cannonier, he’ll move to 2-0 since losing the title to Adesanya, having also beaten Darren Till this summer. While that might be enough to earn him a rematch with the champ, he doesn’t feel that he’s owed that opportunity.
“I don’t think anyone owes anybody anything,” Whittaker said. “I just want to fight Jared right now. I’m not really thinking about it at all. Whatever [Adesanya] wants to do he can do. He can fight anyone, I don’t care. Honestly, I just want to take this fight, go out there and do my best, and go home, just cruise out, enjoy Christmas.”
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