Robert Whittaker’s next fight is not against Yoel Romero. And that’s perfectly fine with the 28-year-old UFC middleweight champ. Whittaker comes off back-to-back five-round wars with the Cuban powerhouse. While he emerged victorious in both, both fights dealt Whittaker the most punishment he has ever been subject to in his fighting career. It’s for that reason, Whittaker tells MMA Fighting, Kelvin Gastelum should be worried (via BJPenn.com):
“I feel they should be worried but for other reasons,” Whittaker said. “I feel that Yoel gave me his best in 10 rounds and couldn’t put me away. I went 10 rounds with a monster, no one else has. No, [Kelvin Gastelum’s] definitely not a step-down.
“I respect his abilities. He’s a dangerous fighter. He’s gonna come in there hungry, with nothing to lose. [That’s] one of the most dangerous combinations. So yeah, I’m giving him the respect he deserves.
“It is refreshing to have a different opponent other than Yoel but ya know, here we are.”
Whittaker will defend his UFC middleweight title against Gastelum in the main event of this weekend’s (Sat. February 10, 2019) UFC 234 pay-per-view (PPV) from the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. It will be Whittaker’s first official title defense, as Romero missed weight for their last fight in June. As a result, Whittaker vs. Romero II was a five-round non-title bout.
If Whittaker is able to get past Gastelum, he could find his next title defense coming against one of MMA’s hottest rising stars. And perhaps that bout could take place on the world’s second-largest continent.
What do you think about Whittaker saying it’s “refreshing” to not be fighting Romero?