Marvin Vettori’s fake handshake got Robert Whittaker fired up: “It was just grubby.”


Robert Whittaker took issue with Marvin Vettori’s staredown etiquette.

Ahead of their co-main event bout at UFC Paris, Whittaker and Vettori had a memorable faceoff at the ceremonial weigh-ins this past Friday. Whittaker tried to approach Vettori and ask for a handshake. But Vettori pulled back his hand in an attempt to mock Whittaker.

Whittaker is the No. 2 middleweight in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings, went on to defeat Vettori by unanimous decision on Saturday. But the incident definitely stuck in his mind.

“Mate. I was filthy,” Whittaker stated when Whittaker was asked about his fake-out at The MMA Hour Wednesday. “Absolutely filthy. It was very grubby. It was such a grubby thing to do, and I understand where he’s coming from, he just wants to get in my head a little bit, because we’d been so amicable up until then. He was just trying to throw anything out there in the wind to try and ruffle the feathers. He was sure to come. This was known by the coaches. But I want to say it didn’t bother, it bothered me. It really p***** me off.

“It is one thing to not shake hands. I get that. You keep your hand to yourself, you do you, I’ll do me. You’re tricking me into giving your hand and sucking me in the last moment. You don’t do that. I don’t know, it just seems like he broke a solemn rule, you know?”

Overall, Whittaker was amused by Vettori’s gag, though mostly because the Italian middleweight was so earnest in his approach.

“I was laughing because it was like ’90s Kickboxer, he came over all serious and was like, ‘I’m going to thrash you,'” Whittaker said. “It just made me laugh. It was funny because I could [say anything], not believe it. I was simply laughing. This is why I smiled. It was funny to me that I smiled.

“I have all these conversations, I’m a big thinker. And I’m just thinking, ‘We’re going to fight tomorrow. We’ll be there .'”

Whittaker was dominant on fight night, pushing past a slow opening round to dominate the action in Rounds 2 and 3. Vettori had been battered by the time the bout ended.

Another impressive performance from “The Reaper”, who lost only twice at 185 lbs — both title fights against UFC champion Israel Adesanya.

Whittaker insists his aggressive approach had little to do with Vettori’s pre-fight antics or any need to prove something after losing to Adesanya at UFC 271 this past February.

” Not at all,” Whittaker stated. Whittaker said, “I knew exactly what I was doing.” My actions caused [Vettori] concern, which ruffled his feathers. Although he wanted to see me react, I already know what I am about. I know what I’m about.

“We can be amicable, we can be friends even–not really friends, but we can be really cool. You can also be professional. Yes, we can dance. But when the door closes and we are put into the octagon I have to change. The game face is on. I’m fighting now.”

When Whittaker was asked if Vettori has any chance of becoming a champion in the future, Whittaker said that Vettori is still a potential contender. But he made sure to mention one important caveat.

“Definitely not while I’m around,” Whittaker said. He has something, [and] that’s why he won so many fights. It is his zero quit. This will get a man very, very far. In many of his fights, he is fighting someone who is more skilled, flashier and technical. But he never gives up and his opponent wins. It’s a dangerous trait to have, especially someone who’s young enough like he is. To keep learning and growing.

“I’m not going to take anything away from him. I still don’t think he beats me, definitely not now, but I think he’s got a lot of potential still.”