With the likes of Luke Rockold, Yoel Romero, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza and now Georges St-Pierre being the primary names linked with a shot at Michael Bisping’s UFC middleweight championship in recent times, one name was considered by many to be on the perimeter of the title picture at 185 pounds. That was until Robert Whittaker knocked Souza out earlier this month at UFC on Fox 24.
Now the 18-4 Australian stands on the brink of being his country’s first ever title contender but, as he says to the Sydney Morning Herald, Whittaker is happy to bide his time until he gets his first opportunity at UFC gold. Asked if he should be the next name in Bisping’s appointment calendar, Whittaker said: “I don’t see why I should. Bisping has said I’m the No.1 contender so I don’t see a reason for me to fight until he’s done with Georges.”
The returning Georges St-Pierre is slated to be the next contender at middleweight, though the date for the fight has not yet been announced. The champion has been vocal in recent weeks, implying that he might ask for another opponent should the finer details of the fight not be arranged in short order but no matter the long terms plans UFC matchmakers have in store for the division, Whittaker remains confident that the performances he has delivered in the octagon will stand him in good stead when the title picture clears up.
“I’ve put the division on notice that I can stop anyone. I’m a different fighter. [Jacare] had never fought anyone like me. I knew what I was bringing to the table. I did something on the weekend that nobody in the top ten has ever done. I took [Jacare] and I stopped him in devastating fashion.”
Signing a contract to face Michael Bisping, particularly in a high profile title fight, brings with it an added element of promotion and — often in Bisping’s case — a very vocal rivalry. Whittaker maintains though that he has no animosity towards the Brit and he is more interested in the UFC title than the man whose waist it is wrapped around.
“I’m not after Bisping. I’m after that belt. If Bisping gives it to his neighbour, I’ll fight his neighbour. I want that belt and I think I’ve earned the right to get that belt.”