Robert Whittaker is not assuming anything ahead of UFC 290. The former middleweight champion is heavily favored to defeat Dricus Du Plessis on July 8 and secure a title shot against the current champion, Israel Adesanya. Whittaker, ranked No. 2 in the MMA Hook Global Rankings at 185 pounds, boasts a flawless 12-0 record in the division against everyone except Adesanya since 2014.
Although Du Plessis holds an impressive undefeated 5-0 record in the UFC, the South African contender has yet to face an opponent of Whittaker’s caliber and has faced challenges against lower-level opposition. Consequently, Du Plessis enters UFC 290 as a significant underdog.
Nonetheless, Whittaker remains cautious and avoids complacency. Speaking on the UFC Vegas 75 post-fight show, Whittaker addressed Du Plessis, stating, “If fights were determined solely on paper, the landscape of the sport would be entirely different. I understand that fights aren’t won that way. I recognize the threat that Dricus poses and how it can impact my pursuit of what I desire.”
Whittaker acknowledges that the underestimation of Du Plessis by his previous opponents has played a major role in the South African’s success. Whittaker acknowledges the significance of granting Du Plessis the credit and respect his skill set deserves. He emphasizes his own dedication, hard work, and training, vowing to bring his best to UFC 290.
At 32 years old, Whittaker finds himself at a pivotal point in his career. While he has enjoyed success at 185 pounds against almost every opponent, he suffered defeats in both of his encounters with Adesanya. The former champion experienced a devastating second-round knockout at UFC 243 in October 2019, followed by a more competitive unanimous decision loss in their February 2022 rematch at UFC 271.
Whittaker bounced back from his second loss with a victory over Marvin Vettori in September of the same year, demonstrating continuous improvement in his fighting abilities. As he prepares for UFC 290, Whittaker aims to bridge the gap between himself and Adesanya, viewing it as possibly his last opportunity to face his rival.
“My game has evolved over the years and with each fight. Every time I step into the octagon, I believe I offer a glimpse into my growth, into what I bring,” Whittaker explained. “You witness new and enhanced skill sets, building upon the previous ones. I constantly experiment with new techniques, grappling, wrestling, and refining my boxing. This constant evolution propels me to new heights, and Dricus will witness another level on fight night.”
UFC President Dana White has already confirmed that the winner of the Whittaker vs. Du Plessis bout will become the next No. 1 contender for Adesanya’s title. The UFC plans to schedule Adesanya’s next title defense for UFC 293 on September 10 in Sydney. If Whittaker emerges victorious against Du Plessis, he would have little time for recovery, but he is prepared for a swift turnaround.
“While I’m not overlooking Dricus by any means, considering his dangerous skills and the significance of our fight in July, I have to mention that if I’m healthy and able, I’ll accept any fight,” Whittaker affirmed. “I’m willing to fight at any date and any time, even two days after July if circumstances allow. So, let’s focus on July first, and remember, I’m here for the fight game. It’s what I do.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about underestimation
Q: What is the significance of underestimation in Robert Whittaker’s success in the UFC middleweight division?
A: Underestimation plays a major role in Robert Whittaker’s success. He believes that opponents like Dricus Du Plessis have not given him the credit and respect his skill set deserves, which has contributed to his accomplishments in the division. Whittaker emphasizes the importance of recognizing the threat that Du Plessis brings to the table and vows to give his best in their upcoming fight.
More about underestimation
- UFC Official Website
- Robert Whittaker’s Profile on UFC Website
- Dricus Du Plessis’ Profile on UFC Website
- MMA Hook Global Rankings
- Israel Adesanya’s Profile on UFC Website
- UFC 290 Event Details
- UFC Vegas 75 Post-Fight Show
- UFC 243: Whittaker vs. Adesanya Fight Recap
- UFC 271: Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2 Fight Recap
- Marvin Vettori’s Profile on UFC Website