There are a lot of ways to describe UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker but one word that almost immediately comes to mind is unassuming.
As if he’s Superman in the cage yet Clark Kent everywhere else, Whittaker has gone on a tear through the middleweight division with eight straight wins including back-to-back title fights yet he’s still one of the least talked about champions in the UFC.
Perhaps that’s because Whittaker isn’t the most prolific talker when there is a microphone in front of his face or maybe it’s because he missed out on bigger ticket opponents such as Michael Bisping, Georges St-Pierre or even Luke Rockhold when they were atop the division.
Whatever the reason, Whittaker doesn’t typically see his name splashed around the headlines unless he’s got a fight coming up soon.
“I think Whittaker right now is the most underrated champion in the UFC,” UFC president Dana White said about the reigning middleweight champion when speaking on the ‘Jim Rome Show’ this week.
This weekend, Whittaker will defend his title close to home in Australia when he faces Kelvin Gastelum in the main event.
It’s a closely contested headliner but again probably not the kind of star making fight that will make Whittaker a household name even if this ends up being a five round war.
“I think him and Gastelum are exactly the same. Both guys move forward, both guys throw every punch with bad intentions and both guys are knockout artists,” White said. “I think it’s going to be fireworks. It’s going to be a great fight.”
If there’s one fight that could put Whittaker on a different stratosphere in terms of name recognition and popularity — at least close to home — it’s a potential matchup against undefeated middleweight contender Israel Adesanya.
He faces former champion Anderson Silva in the UFC 234 co-main event with the winner moving onto fight for the middleweight title later this year.
If Whittaker and Adesanya both win, White believes the scale of that fight for Australia would be unimaginable.
“Israel Adesanya is from New Zealand and Whittaker is from Australia. Both of these guys win — this fight with Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva is for the No. 1 contender’s position so whoever wins that night [gets a title shot],” White explained.
“But if it ends up being Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker, New Zealand versus Australia — it’s going to be madness.”
Is Robert Whittaker the most underrated champion in the UFC today? Sound off in the comments and let us know!