Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker says he hasn’t felt like himself in the cage since his first fight with Yoel Romero, in July of 2017.
Whittaker has made no secret of the fact that he’s recently been enduring some inner turmoil with respect to his fighting career. The former champion was expected to take on Jared Cannonier at UFC 248 in February, but pulled out of the contest, ultimately citing a need for a reset.
Yet it’s now clear that his mental struggles date back much further than UFC 248.
Speaking on Submission Radio recently, Whittaker divulged that he hasn’t felt like himself in the cage since his 2017 victory over Yoel Romero, which earned him the interim middleweight title. To refresh, he’s fought twice since then, first defeating Romero for a second time in a rematch, then losing his title to Israel Adesanya via knockout in 2019.
“Probably Romero one,” Whittaker said when asked when he last fought like himself. “Romero two a little bit, but I was kind of getting a little bit stiff and pent up. And certainly not in the last fight [with Adesanya]. It is what it is.”
While Whittaker says he hasn’t felt right in his last two fights, he seems to be greatly refreshed after his recent hiatus, despite recently losing his title.
The former champ is slated to take on Darren Till on July 25 in Abu Dhabi, and sounds like he’s in a good place mentally.
“I’m just going to go in there to have fun with it, to be honest,” Whittaker said. “It’s one of those things where the pressure has been on so heavily and everything’s just been ramping up and ramping up and ramping up, I just want to take a step back, take all the skillsets I’ve been working on, and go in there and just be relaxed and let them out. I want to go out there and just have fun with it. I want to be creative with it, I just want to fight like me. I just want to enjoy the ride. I want to enjoy the experience.”
“I’m looking forward for a change,” Whittaker added. “To fight in a different country, no crowd, just a ranking fight. It’s going to be fresh. I feel the theme for this fight is fresh.”
How do you think Robert Whittaker will look in his return to the cage this July?