Robert Whittaker was recently left behind after his UFC 284 matchup against Paulo Costa fell apart.
The former middleweight champion is not getting a replacement for the February 11, 2023 homecoming in Perth, Australia. Instead, he will be looking to return when it suits him best in the coming months.
The September 2022 UFC Paris event hosted Whittaker’s rebound victory after his last title fight in February 2022, beating Marvin Vettori via an impressive unanimous decision (see highlights). Many in the community felt that ‘The Reaper’ had done enough in his previous rematch with Israel Adesanya to become champion, but the title has since changed hands, belonging to Alex Pereira. For Whittaker’s latest opponent, Vettori, he wouldn’t disagree with Whittaker getting the next shot.
“Whittaker, I don’t know what they’re going to make him do,” Vettori told The Schmo. “He beats a lot of people, he beat me last fight. The guy is solid, we’ll see.
“I think he deserves the title shot as well,” he added. “I think Whittaker can do it, yes. Because of grappling a bit. He’s a smart fighter, man.
Pereira won the UFC middleweight title in November 2022, dethroning reigning kingpin Adesanya via a fifth-round comeback technical knockout (watch highlights). The pair is expected to trade back in the near future.
If so, Vettori sees the same result and ultimately hopes that a potential upcoming victory over Roman Dolidze at UFC 286 on March 11, 2023 can lead him back towards title contention.
“If they fight ‘Izzy’ again, he will beat ‘Izzy’ again,” Vettori said. “I don’t know, I feel like he was on a mission to beat him and now he doesn’t even really do it anymore. [care]. I mean, sure, he cares because everyone cares about the money, but he knows it’s risky to fight someone who has really good grappling. I don’t blame him, I like him. So if I have a chance to fight him, I really want to fight him. I have to do a few fights before him and we’ll see what happens, I’m not even stressing about it.
“Definitely, I would like to fight him and I think I will do very well. We will see,” he concluded.
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