Robert Whittaker plans to be ready to step in if Israel Adesanya or Paulo Costa is forced out of their UFC 253 middleweight title fight.
Whittaker fought in the main event of UFC Fight Island 3 on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi, picking up a crucial decision victory over Darren Till. The win marked Whittaker’s emergence from a brief hiatus, and his first fight since losing the UFC middleweight title to Adesanya in October.
“Obviously there was a lot of pressures and stresses going into this fight,” Whittaker said at the card’s post-fight press conference (via MMA Fighting). “I’m just happy. We got the result that we came here for.
“I’m happy that the work trip was successful. I’m happy that I got to showcase more of my skill sets and open up. I got to fight adversity in the fight again. It is what it is. It was a great fight. Stressful fight.”
Whittaker hopes that this victory reminded the world that he’s a championship-level fighter. While he has never doubted that himself, he reiterated that he wasn’t fighting at full capacity against Adesanya.
“Honestly, I am championship level,” Whittaker said. “Everyone can see that. Everyone’s always known that. I wasn’t myself last fight. I believe that. Not to take anything away [from Israel Adesanya], he’s a great striker, but I wasn’t myself last fight. I think this is a good win.
“I’m a champion without the belt, with the belt, doesn’t matter. It is what it is. I’m looking forward to getting back to work and seeing how that next fight goes.”
Now that he’s back on track, Whittaker is eager to reclaim the UFC middleweight title, and would be willing to accept a short-notice championship opportunity, should Adesanya or Costa be forced out of their planned UFC 253 showdown.
“That’s a great time,” Whittaker said about potentially competing again in September. “I’ll be preparing around that time. If we can all get on the same card, that would be great. We would be ready. We’re always ready.
“I’m ready for a championship fight right now,” Whittaker said. “Whenever. Tomorrow. Last night. It doesn’t matter. I’m championship level. I displayed that tonight.
“That’s just the level I’m at. I’m already ready for a championship title shot. That’s just me.”
What do you think is next for Robert Whittaker after UFC Fight Island 3? Do you think he’ll reclaim the UFC middleweight title in the future?