Robert Whittaker remains the best middleweight in the UFC not named Israel Adesanya. Whittaker showcased a sublime, well-rounded gameplan against No. 2 Marvin Vettori at UFC Fight Night in Paris, France to maintain his position as No. 1 contender for the middleweight championship.
Whittaker opened the fight in traditional Whittaker fashion, edging out his opponent with superior movement and combinations while making reads. The former champion expanded on his lead in the subsequent two rounds by repeatedly uncorking big head kicks that wobbled Vettori. Stinging counter jabs, front kicks to the body, uppercuts, knees and a takedown were reminders that Whittaker is one of the sport’s most well-rounded fighters. Whittaker was awarded the unanimous decision with clean sweeps on two of the judges’ scorecards.
“I know I go to a lot of decisions but, trust me, I hit pretty hard,” Whittaker told UFC commentator Michael Bisping during his post-fight interview. “I’m the most dangerous man in this division, including the champion. I make people hate fighting. I take the love out of it for them. As for who is next, I’m always gunning for that top spot. I’m going to be lurking there waiting.”
Whittaker improved to 24-6 and has only lost to Adesanya in the last seven years. He remains a thorn in the side of the reigning middleweight champion. A close decision loss in their second fight gives Whittaker a case for a trilogy as he continues to turn back other challenges below him in the queue. Vettori is 2-2 in his last four fights, beating Paulo Costa and Kevin Holland but losing to Whittaker and Adesanya.