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There was a time when Robert Whittaker cut a grumpy and anti-social figure on fight week.

Those days seem to be behind him, as the former champion now hits media day with a grin and a generally relaxed air around him. Such was the case in Abu Dhabi, where Whittaker refused to be intimidated by the task ahead of him in hard-hitting Jared Cannonier who he faces on Saturday night.

“Jared, right now, has the highest threat level of anyone because he’s the dude I have to fight,” Whittaker said. “I have had hard fights and I expect a very hard fight in Jared, Jared’s a very hard dude. I’m not sleeping on his skill set, I’m not sleeping on his power. He can beat me. I could lose. But I don’t think I will.”

Cannonier has been on a tear of late, sending people crashing to the canvas as he plows forward to a title shot — something he’ll likely receive with a win this weekend.

In Whittaker’s mind, however, there are levels to the game and he’ll be able to prove that to fans.

“He’s very tough, he’s very powerful, he has knockout power, and he’s resilient, he never goes away,” Whittaker saidR. “But honestly, I just think I’m better across the board. I think I can take this fight wherever I want it to go. I can lead this dance. I think I can sting him, I can knock him out. I can do anything I want and I have 15 minutes to do that, which is better than 25, so I’m looking forward to it.”