The UFC middleweight champion will defend his title against Kelvin Gastelum after spending six weeks filming the next season of The Ultimate Fighter alongside him.
Robert Whittaker might just have claimed iconic status within the UFC’s middleweight division following his pair of scintillating victories over Yoel Romero.
Two contrasting styles met over ten rounds to decide the title of 185lb champion and while it was the Aussie who came out on top both times, he did so by the skin of his teeth.
Romero stood as a puzzle that many had failed to crack in the years prior. The stakes that come with fighting an athlete with such explosive power were felt to their fullest by the likes of Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza, and Chris Weidman but when ‘The Soldier of God’ faced ‘The Reaper’, the former TUF winner proved to be his equal – and in some ways, his maker.
Now, with a matchup against his fellow former-welterweight and TUF victor Kelvin Gastelum on the cards, fans are ecstatic at the prospect of seeing two of the finest young fighters in the UFC clash over five rounds.
With The Ultimate Fighter supposedly set to wrap up this season – the show’s historic run may well culminate with this pairing and what better way to usher in a new era post-TUF than with two of its former-winners facing off for the title.
Whittaker spoke during the TUF 28 media day and broke down his opinion on Gastelum’s skillset in comparison to his own.
“I think it’s given Romero a bit of a chip to think that he changed me as a fighter after fighting him twice. He was a tough fight. He was a tough opponent. I had my mettle tested.
“If anything, I think it should be disheartening for every other fighter in the division. No one has what it takes to put me away.
“He’s a tough athlete. He hits like a truck. He’s fast, he’s young, and he wants it. The thing is, though, personally, I think I’m just better at everything than he is.
“I look forward to going into this fight, putting my skill set against his and seeing how that comes out.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena