Robert Whittaker wants Sean Strickland in Perth this summer: ‘That would be the bee’s knees’


Robert Whittaker has his path to the title all mapped out.

At UFC 298, Whittaker got back in the win column with a hard-fought unanimous decision win over Paulo Costa. The win is Whittaker’s first since getting stopped by Dricus du Plessis at UFC 290, and the man affectionately dubbed “Bobby Knuckles” by fans was pleased with his ability to rebound from one of the more deflating performances of his career.

“I’m very happy obviously to get the W, to get the result you’ve been working towards,” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “It kind of validates all the changes and all the work you put in. I think I can fight better than that. I think technically I can fight better than that. But I think that’s as good as I could fight with the circumstances that day, right? So, one of my biggest focuses moving into this fight was just making sure I didn’t feel the way I did for the Dricus fight against Costa. And it was changing and doubling down on the intensity and the focus and the drive every session, every minute of a session, every week of training for months leading into this fight. And I’m very happy with that result.

“I’m stoked with the way that went down, because my headspace and my focus and my resolve was unbreakable, it was unshakable. And that was good. I’m happy I took the grit back on the reigns with that. It was taking back control of something that is so fickle that I think a lot of people forget that it’s something that can be controlled. So, that was massive, and I take that as a massive win. It’s not really about the fight. It’s about me as a fighter and my mentality moving forward. But I think technically I could fight better, but that was the best I could have fought at the time, perhaps.”

A former UFC middleweight champion, Whittaker lost the title to Israel Adesanya in 2019 and then fell short in their rematch in 2022. The loss to du Plessis set Whittaker well back from his goal of reclaiming the title, however, the win over Costa put Whittaker right back in the conversation and he believes that defeating former champion Sean Strickland could propel him back towards one more crack at gold.

“Sean’s up there as well,” Whittaker said. “I think that’s a good direction. It’s moved me towards that goal that I’m looking for. Moves me in the right direction. So, I think that they’re the most logical choices moving forward though. The only thing I can kind of put down is the date I’m looking for. So, I hear on the grapevine that there’s a Perth card in August, perhaps. I would love to get on that, to run a show with that.”

With new champion du Plessis seemingly set to face Adesanya sometime later this year, a matchup between Strickland and Whittaker would make a ton of sense. And while Whittaker isn’t specifically calling out Strickland, he’s also not not calling him out.

“Don’t sound bite me saying ‘Rob wants Sean Strickland in August,’” Whittaker said. “That’s the logical move to make. I want to fight for the title, right? I understand that’s a bit of a long whatever at this point. And Sean doesn’t look like he’s tied up. So, it is the logical step. Sure. Yeah. Ah, you can sound bite me whatever [laughs].”

While the Perth card is only rumor at this point, the UFC went to Australia twice in 2023, both for pay-per-view events. Of course those events were headlined by then-champions from the region, but with Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski both losing their titles, the UFC’s return to “Oz” could instead be a Fight Night card this time around, which would be the first since 2018. And if that’s the case, Whittaker would be more than happy to headline against Strickland.

“Five rounds comes with a lot more work,” Whittaker said. “It’s not like I don’t want to do it, it’s just it’s a lot more work. But in saying that, five rounds also means that I’m most likely headlining it, and I would love that. I love that idea too. Because I think I owe Perth a fight. I owe Australia a fight. So, to be able to do that would be the bee’s knees, if you would. But Sean, he said it himself, all I do is blitz. So, I’m going to blitz him a lot. And yeah, see how that goes.”


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