Robert Whittaker has already achieved more than most ever will in their mixed martial arts careers and, as such, the former UFC middleweight champion has no intention of sticking around longer than he needs to.
The concept of retirement has often proved difficult for some prizefighters who are unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge that a step has been lost to the ravages of age, but not so for Whittaker who has long identified his own exit strategy from the sport — something he reflected on further after watching the 45-year-old Anderson Silva getting knocked out in his final UFC fight.
“You can see that his timing is half a second off, he can’t take the shots like he could when he was younger, he doesn’t hit quite as hard,” Whittaker said to MMA Fighting. “Anderson Silva back in his prime, he couldn’t get touched, and when he got touched he shrugged off everything. He was unstoppable, he was uncanny, but it required the perfect balance of youth and physical attributes and talent.
“Whereas now he’s experienced and the talent is obviously there, that’s why he’s still competitive, that’s why he’s still doing so well, but his youth and his physical attributes have declined a little bit. When you’re fighting top-caliber dudes, top-tier guys, like young, hungry, physical guys — look at the specimen of Uriah Hall. You’re fighting a dude that’s in the prime of his physical abilities and with the talent to go with it, it’s just scary.”
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As such, Whittaker, who is 29-year-old, very much expects his career to have a ‘best before’ date and while he says he will be around for a few years yet, he certainly won’t be fighting into his forties.
“Hell no,” he said. “This game is stressful. That’s another thing, these guys that fight throughout their late 30s, early 40s, this game never gets easier. Every fight, never gets easier. The stresses and the nerves are always there. Like, always. I don’t know why they just keep throwing themselves into this game. It is crazy, in my opinion.
“I have a soft cap, and I’m obviously going to go on how my body feels, but if I start getting knocked out and start losing, my health comes first – I’m gonna just bow out.”