Regardless of who’s currently holding the UFC belt, Robert Whittaker has no doubts about who the top middleweight in the world is.
The former champion spoke to Australian media outlet The Sydney Morning Herald and discussed upcoming opponent Marvin Vettori, as well as where Whittaker currently sees himself in the division.
Speaking about his matchup with Vettori, “The Reaper” cited their shared history with champion Israel Adesanya as a point of respect.
“Me and him, we’re in the same boat because we’ve both only lost to the same character,” Whittaker said. “I have to respect him. In saying that, I can honestly say I do believe I am the best middleweight in the world and I can trump Vettori in every field he wants.”
Whittaker and Vettori were scheduled to meet at UFC 275 before Whittaker pulled out with an injury. The two are now set to fight at UFC Fight Night London in September, where “The Reaper” will look to rebound from losing a second fight against Adesanya last February.
Considering the 31-year-old was knocked out in their initial 2019 meeting, going the distance with Adesanya in the rematch could be viewed as an improvement. Whittaker certainly feels he came out of that fight stronger, despite losing the decision.
“I’ve learnt a great deal from the last fight and since then. There are so many psychological advancements since that fight, just because of the way the first fight between him and I went, and the way the second fight went down.”
Since moving up from welterweight in 2014, Whittaker has beaten every opponent he’s faced aside from Adesanya. “The Reaper” isn’t looking past Vettori, but he’s eager to take what he learned from his first two meetings with Adesanya into a potential third fight.
“There was a fair amount of changes [in the approach to the second fight]. The most impact it will have is in the next fight, because it will be a culmination of the first and second fight. I do believe the last fight took me to another level, mentally more than anything else, and that’s why I confidently say that I am the best middleweight in the world.”
What do you think of Whittaker’s comments? Is the former champion still the best middleweight in the world?