Thursday, May 19, 2022

Coach Explains How Whittaker Is A “Whole Different Beast” On The Feet

Robert Whittaker’s coach Alex Prates has revealed how the former champion has grown into a “whole different beast” on the feet ahead of his rematch with Israel Adesanya.

At the start of 2019, Whittaker was on the UFC‘s middleweight throne, riding a nine-fight win streak, and was unbeaten since 2014. That form came crashing to a halt at UFC 243 in Melbourne. Spoiling the champ’s homecoming, then-interim titleholder Adesanya showed his striking superiority by TKOing “The Reaper” in the second round.

But after taking a break from the sport and finding his love for martial arts again, Whittaker has returned to his best. In three outings since his title loss, the New Zealand-born Australian has outpointed Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, and Kelvin Gastelum. In doing so, he’s secured a shot at redemption.

In the UFC 271 main event this weekend, Whittaker and Adesanya will share the Octagon for a second time.

Whittaker Has Had A Helping Hand From An Aussie Legend

Whittaker has been extremely open about his 2019 defeat. From the pressure placed on him by accentuated media narratives to issues with ego, the former middleweight king hasn’t been shy in discussing what went wrong on the night, which saw him approach the fight in a rash and unusually rushed fashion.

But while he was comfortably outstruck and pieced up by Adesanya, an elite striker who has since outpointed Yoel Romero and Marvin Vettori, and finished Paulo Costa, Whittaker’s team are confident the necessary adjustments have been made.

During an interview with Sherdog, Coach Alex Prates discussed the constant improvements Whittaker has been making between his recent appearances. With big progress in the last year, Prates says fans should expect to see the “best Robert Whittaker” to date this weekend.

“We started to adapt a little bit. I think we learn a lot from that loss to Israel. A few things that make Rob a very dangerous opponent… I think he was coming from nine wins in a row before he lost to Adesanya. We learned a lot,” said Prates. “When you get to a level of striking, a few things, the basics, have to be astounding. So we start to change a little bit, we start to adapt… get all the fundamentals right. He got better. He got a little bit better with Darren Till, he got better with Cannonier, he got better with Gastelum.

“But the biggest improvement, I have no doubt, the biggest improvement that was made in Robert’s game was in-between the last fight with Gastelum and this fight with Adesanya,” added Prates. “He’s probably gonna be, potentially, the best Robert Whittaker you guys have ever seen.”

While a number of factors have helped Whittaker expand his weaponry and fine-tune his arsenal, Prates says one addition to the team has made him a “whole different beast” on the feet. That helping hand has come from renowned Aussie boxing trainer Johnny Lewis.

With the aid of a trainer who’s coached six world champions, Prates believes Whittaker now has what it takes to match “The Last Stylebender” punch for punch.

“He’s sharp, his hands look sharp. We are having the help of a very famous boxing coach in Australia, Mr. Johnny Lewis,” Prates continued. “He’s a guy who trained six world champions. I think Johnny is about 70… He was retired but he came back to train a bronze medalist, that won the bronze medal for Australia in Rio and became professional.

“I know Johnny for a while few a through common friends. So I asked for a favor from him to oversee Rob’s boxing for this fight and he took us on board. I’m very grateful. And the results are showing. Rob’s hands… he looks a whole different beast now,” concluded Prates.

While Whittaker has undoubtedly improved and found the form of his life in his three fights since the crushing loss to Adesanya, whether he can hand the Nigerian-New Zealander his first defeat at middleweight is another question.

We’ll find out if he’s made enough of an adjustment on February 12.

Who do you think will leave UFC 271 with the middleweight gold, Robert Whittaker or Israel Adesanya?

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