Robert Whittaker accidentally created a minor stir in the early hours of Wednesday morning when he tweeted about “Skinny Rob” coming back sooner than he expected.
With Whittaker’s second loss to UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya still fresh in everyone’s minds, many fans mistakenly assumed the tweet meant Whittaker was getting ready to start anew back down at 170 pounds, the division he left in 2014 but competed in for the first three years of his UFC run. Whittaker is still MMA Fighting’s No. 2 ranked middleweight in the world, those assumptions were very wrong.
“Mate, it had unexpected attention and unintentional attention, because it just got out of control,” Whittaker said with a laugh on Wednesday’s episode of The MMA Hour. I consider camp Rob, so Rob that’s at camp is Rob that happily eats his way to sleep each night — Skinny Rob. Do you know what? That’s why in a lot of my posts previously I’ve said things like, ‘OK, Skinny Rob’s on the shelf now for a while,’ etc, etc. But everyone was just like, ‘He’s going back to 170! Look at his skinny stature !’
” People don’t realise how heavy I am,” said the UFC Middleweight Champion. So, I will walk 215 220 every day. That’s just my living weight.”
Wednesday’s tweet was a completely different interpretation. Whittaker could only hint around the specifics, but it appears he’ll be returning to the cage sooner than initially planned.
“There might be something in the works,” Whittaker said with a grin. “I might have a name picked out, I might have a location picked out, and you know, I’m turning it around sooner than I normally do and just jumping straight back in there.
” Although it wasn’t in the plan, I was given the opportunity and presented with the option. I’m not hurt from my last fight. There’s a lot of things — just the date suits up, there’s a lot of things that I had planned for after the date. And I wanted to get three fights in this year, so hitting a potential fight in June is a good day for me.”
Whittaker called the matchup “pretty certain” and stated that he was still waiting for details. For those who can read the words, however, you will see that his next matchup against Marvin Vettori is scheduled for June in Singapore.
” If we are just breaking it down and spitballing, I believe there is only one man I haven’t fought yet,” Whittaker stated. “Right? So then his name is the only one to pull out of the hat.
” I am open to new challenges. It’s rare that there’s a fight I am interested in because it’s a fight I like. It’s just more of, I haven’t fought him before. Izzy was my last fight, so I was prepping for a match — rematches are suck and preparing to rematches is suck. Especially if you lose the first. The amount of work and the thought processes that go through the camp and everything like that, it’s a bit trying. So to break away from a rematch and to fight a new face, some new blood, yeah, it’s interesting.”
It’s no secret that Whittaker finds himself in a difficult position after his UFC 271 setback against Adesanya. His road back to the belt could be a long one after losing twice to the current champion, even if February’s rematch was a close decision. But Whittaker is still only 31 years old — young enough to have plenty of good years ahead of him — and he’s still determined to get his third crack at Adesanya. The rematch was close, which gave Whittaker more faith that “The Last Stylebender” can be defeated.
For now, he will wait to see how the next title run turns out. If anything goes wrong, he might revisit the idea to change divisions. However, only if that means moving up to 205 pound.
“I’ve considered it, because going up is definitely the option, not going down,” Whittaker said. “And I’ve considered it. The only problem is that I feel so great at middleweight. I’ve got the cut well down. I’m just right with my strength, cardio and speed.
“I feel like I’d lose some of that if I move up to 205, so it might be — I don’t know, I think I’m going to try and just work my way up to a title shot here one more time and then play with the idea afterwards.”