Australian UFC superstar Rob Whittaker has revealed his next opponent — who he’ll fight in Paris — and how it gets him to a trilogy title battle with rival Israel Adesanya.
Robert Whittaker has unveiled his plans to beat Italian Marvin Vettori in a historic French blockbuster later this year and then jump straight back into a UFC middleweight title shot, saying: “I’ve dismantled everyone else”.
After weeks of mounting speculation, UFC officials confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that 31-year-old Whittaker will face Vettori at the Accor Arena, Paris on September 4.
The event, which will be the first of its kind held on French soil, is shaping up as a huge one for Australian fights fans — with Mt Druitt slugger Tai Tuivasa tipped to headline in a heavyweight title eliminator against hometown hero Ciryl Gane.
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Fellow Sydneysider Tyson Pedro is also a chance of fighting on the undercard, having recently celebrated his return to the Octagon after more than three years out with injury.
For Whittaker, confirmation of the Vettori bout means he can finally start planning his third assault at a UFC middleweight king Israel Adesanya.
Should Australia’s first UFC champion win in Paris, he says the only “logical” fight to make from there is a trilogy bout against his Trans Tasman rival.
While Adesanya has won both previous title fights between the pair, their last bout in February was so close many people, including the fighter dubbed Bobby Knuckles, thought the judges got it wrong.
After the result was announced, large sections of the Texas crowd booed the decision, with Whittaker reconfirming four months on that “I still believe I’m the best middleweight in the world”.
Asked if a win at UFC Paris should put him straight back into the UFC title picture against Adesanya, Whittaker told The Daily Telegraph: “That’s the fight I’ll be pushing for, yes.
“Especially when you look at the fight me and him (Adesanya) had last time, how close it was.
“Then if you look at the top five, even the top 10, I’ve dismantled everyone else in the division.
“So it’s the logical conclusion I come up with.
“And the one that makes sense on paper.
“So that’s the fight I want. The fight I’ll be annoying everyone about it.
“But I know exactly what a tough fight Marvin Vettori is.
“He’s been top 10 for a long time now and for good reason.
“It’s also I had to put our fight back (initially) … because to fight him you have to be at 100 per cent”.
Whittaker and Vettori were initially set to throw down at UFC 275 in Singapore on Sunday week.
However, the Aussie was forced to withdraw following an undisclosed injury which, he insists, is now “back to 100 per cent”.
“I’m finally at a point now where it’s fully healed,” he said.
“And I’ve only been back to full training the past couple of weeks. Which only reinforces that I needed that time.
“And to pull out of any fight, it’s terrible.
“There are a lot of repercussions come with that.
“Especially with your fans, and mentally … it’s a terrible thing to have happen and unfortunately I’ve now been through it a couple of times.
“So to have the fight back on two months later, in Paris, I’m very happy and excited.”
Originally published as UFC Paris: Robert Whittaker and to face Marvin Vettori on historic card