Whittaker surprised: I didn't expect Khamzat, I'm looking forward to tough opponents

Robert Whittaker will fight Khamzat Chimaev in Saudi Arabia and the winner of that match will have a title shot against middlewight champion Dricus Du Plessis

by Sededin Dedovic
Whittaker surprised: I didn't expect Khamzat, I'm looking forward to tough opponents
© Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

Robert Whittaker, the Australian fighter known by the nickname "Reaper", came back stronger than ever in the second month of this year. And now he is ready for another campaign for the UFC middleweight title, but before that he will have a big obstacle in the name of Khamzat Chimaev.

His impressive performance in February this year, when he defeated challenger Paulo Costa, showed that Whittaker is still in top form and firmly holds his place among the middleweight elite. But the road to challenging for the title again will require another impressive win.

Whittaker and Chimaev headline the UFC's Fight Night event scheduled for June 22 in Saudi Arabia, and UFC president Dana White has already confirmed that the winner of this bout will be the next title challenger. The winner of this match should fight for the middleweight title currently held by Dricus Du Plessis (21-2), who defeated Sean Strickland (28-6) at the end of January in a somewhat controversial decision.

But regardless of the huge beatings he received from Strickland, this Frenchman became the champion, and any of these two fighters will be a great challenge and a great match. Khamzat Chimaev presents an extremely demanding challenge for Whittaker, and Whittaker himself is aware of this.

The Chechen is maybe 11th in the middleweight ranking list (Whittaker is 3rd), but when it comes to him, that doesn't mean anything because this man has beaten some very strong names so far. He is currently undefeated and is on a 7-fight winning streak since his UFC debut in 2020.

In his last appearance at UFC 294 in October, he defeated former champion Usman by majority decision. He also achieved victories over Gilbert Burns and Kevin Holland, who are very well-known names and respectable fighters.

Robert Whittaker will fight Khamzat Chimaev in Saudi Arabia© Sean M.

Haffey / Getty Images

However, during one of his "MMArcade" podcasts, Whittaker pointed out that he feels fully prepared for this challenge and is actually looking forward to the fight, which he admits will be extremely difficult.

"I understand how difficult the task is for me. It will be extremely difficult, but I will be ready. After the last fight, I have not suffered any injuries, my body is in excellent condition and ready for a new challenge. I am looking forward to this match and I am motivated to return the title in his hands.

"Right now I'm in a great mental state to take on such a tough fight. I'm really looking forward to it, and every tough fight pushes my skills to a new level" he explained. Of course, the UFC's decision to use Whittaker for their debut in Saudi Arabia surprised many, including the fighter himself.

But Whittaker points out that he does not regret that decision and considers this another opportunity to show his skills and earn money.

Robert Whittaker of New Zealand punches Paulo Costa of Brazil in their middleweight fight during UFC 298 at Honda Center on Febr© Sean M.

Haffey / Getty Images

"It was kind of a shock. I assumed that the UFC would keep me waiting for the event in Australia that will take place in the eighth month, and I was kind of preparing for that. But I am happy because they gave me this opportunity.

This is my way to the championship and this is how I earn money for my children. As I've said in previous episodes of the podcast, I want to increase my activity," Whittaker added. As for the fight itself, Chimaev is also waiting for an extremely difficult test.

Whittaker is a fighter who can neutralize wrestlers extremely well, while his ability on the feet is impressive. Experience also benefits Whittaker, while Chimaev has his own qualities, especially in wrestling skills. This is probably the toughest test for Khamzat so far, even though Usman is a former champion this is a totally different profile of a fighter who stands strong against wrestlers.

"I get that he's a tough fighter. He likes to grapple a lot and uses his arm span and reach well. He also has knockout power. Chimaev likes playing the villain in his matches with his opponents, but honestly, he's an honorable fighter.

We're going to get in the cage and we'll have an honorable match. He's not the type of person to give up easily, and neither am I. I'm really looking forward to making history in Saudi Arabia," concluded Whittaker. This match is generating a lot of interest among MMA fans around the world, as it is rare to get such an exciting fight in the middleweight division of the UFC. Ultimately, may the better man win!

Robert Whittaker Khamzat Chimaev