Robert Whittaker’s reign in the middleweight division has come to an end.
On Saturday night, the Australian mixed martial artist, also known as ‘The Reaper,’ failed to live up to expectations after getting manhandled by rising star, Israel Adesanya, in their much-hyped unification bout at UFC 243.
What was expected to be a long night turned into a short affair as Whittaker, who was billed as the heavy favourite to win the fight, did not survive Adesanya’s punches in the second round to relinquish his middleweight belt to the interim champion.
The loss was doubly painful as it took place in front of the 57 000 fans at the Marvel Stadium in his home country in Australia.
It was Whittaker’s first loss at 185 pounds since making his debut in November of 2018.
The defeat also ended an eight-fight winning streak that includes victories over Yoel Romero (twice), Jacare Souza, and Derek Brunson.
— SportsGridUK (@Sportsgriduk) October 6, 2019
Back To Work
Following an underwhelming performance at UFC 243, Whittaker was disappointed with how the fight turned out but was grateful to leave the cage unscathed.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” he said, per MMA Fighting.
“But I took the fight to him. Me and him are two of the best strikers in the world, and it was tit-for-tat.”
“And then I got caught. It happens. He beat me tonight, but I’m 28, this is my first loss in the division.”
“Trust me when I say I’m not going anywhere. I am fortunate enough that I didn’t leave the Octagon with any injuries.”
‘The Reaper’ said he is looking forward to training again and correct the mistakes from his clash with the ‘tricky’ Adesanya.
“So I look to get back in there and get back to work.”
“He’s tricky to hit.”
“He’s very tall, and he’s good at leaning back. He’s tricky to hit, and saying that I did hit him and I hurt him in that first round. … I tried to hit him. Yeah, who knows?”
— Vanguard Newspapers (@vanguardngrnews) October 6, 2019
Whittaker gave his assessment on the fight, saying he was on the driver seat in the first round before getting caught with a barrage of strikes.
“Any guy trying to get in on a tall fighter has to close that gap, and I was having a lot of success doing so.”
“I was hitting him. In that first round I was hitting him, I was hurting him, I was doing work, I was doing damage.”
“I felt really good out there, I felt like I was controlling the fight. And then I just got caught.”
“I went out there and I displayed my heart and I showed my skill set, and I just came off second best tonight. That’s not to say it’ll happen two times in a row.”
“When you’re fighting at this high caliber, at this level, every fight is on the line. It’s a tightrope.”
“That’s what a lot of the fans don’t realize, we’re walking a tightrope out there, and everybody can beat anybody.”
Offering no excuse about the loss, Whittaker ended “Tonight wasn’t my night. But tomorrow might be.”
— News MiM (@I_News_N) October 6, 2019
(Featured Image Source: YouTube/UFC and MMA Fighting)