Robert Whittaker
The Reaper

Australia

Drops UFC gold to Israel Adesanya
MiddleweightUFC
October 5, 2019
Whittaker lost his UFC Middleweight Championship Saturday, falling to Israel Adesanya via KO (punches) at 3:33 of Round 2 at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia.
ANALYSIS
Prior to Saturday, Whittaker's last lost came against Stephen Thompson at UFC 170 on February 22, 2014. In his first fight in 16 months, "Bobby Knuckles" looked out of sorts from the very start. He was throwing big looping shots as opposed to picking his spots and he stood in the pocket with Adesanya when he should have been focused on footwork and defending himself. Everything that made Whittaker successful over the past many years was nowhere to be found on Saturday. It's fair to wonder if all the time off played in role in his poor performance, but Adesanya whipped him without issue and Whittaker will be the last one to use Octagon rust as an excuse. Despite the fact he has been around for seemingly ever, Whittaker won't turn 29 years of age until December. Expect him to be involved in the title conversation at 185 pounds for the foreseeable future.
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Slight underdog for Saturday
MiddleweightUFC
October 1, 2019
Whittaker enters as a slight betting underdog of approximately (-105) for his middleweight championship matchup against Israel Adesanya at UFC 243 on Saturday in Melbourne, Australia.
ANALYSIS
Whittaker last took the cage in the summer of 2018, when he narrowly defeated Yoel Romero to retain his belt at 185 pounds. He's been on the sidelines due to hand and hernia injuries ever since, and over that time, his opponent has accumulated four victories and four post-fight bonuses. While Whittaker has arguably a more impressive list of wins than Adesanya, oddsmakers seem to be leaning the other way due solely to momentum, though that type of line could swing at a moment's notice. One area of potential weakness for Adesanya could be his wrestling, though Whittaker has historically been a fighter that prefers to stand and trade -- he last recorded a takedown in November of 2015 against Uriah Hall. He may be forced to consider other strategies against Adesanya, however, as Adesanya has been heralded for his kickboxing ability and unorthodox striking.
Confirmed for UFC 243
MiddleweightUFC
July 23, 2019
The UFC announced Tuesday that Whittaker (sports hernia) would take on Israel Adesanya (17-0-0) in a middleweight fight on Oct. 5 at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Guilherme Cruz of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
As expected, Whittaker (20-4-0) will defend his title in his home country of Australia after he was previously forced to back out of a matchup with Kelvin Gastelum in Melbourne at UFC 234 while recovering from surgery to address a sports hernia. He'll be nearly eight months removed from the procedure by the time UFC 243 arrives, so Whittaker isn't expected to face any major restrictions with his training as the Oct. 5 fight date looms. The undefeated Adesanya, who holds a four-inch advantage in height and seven-inch advantage in reach, could enter the fight as the favorite despite being the challenger.
Tentative return date set
MiddleweightUFC
June 19, 2019
Whittaker (hernia) is expected to make his return to the Octagon at UFC 243 on October 5 in Melbourne, Australia, where he'll defend his middleweight title against interim champion Israel Adesanya, Raphael Marinho of Combate reports.
ANALYSIS
Whittaker had been scheduled for a title defense against Kelvin Gastelum the last time the UFC was scheduled to go to Melbourne (UFC 234), but he ultimately was forced to withdraw due to a serious sports hernia issue that required surgery. In the champion's absence, the UFC booked an interim title fight between Gastelum and Israel Adesanya, and Adesanya ended up taking a unanimous decision in a bout that earned Fight of the Night honors. This unification bout was always expected to be the next step, and now the UFC appears to have a date set. Whittaker will be giving up four inches in height and seven inches in reach to Adesanya, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the betting odds swing towards the challenger around weigh-in time. Underestimating the champion due to his time off would be a grave mistake, however, as Whittaker has been facing elite fighters in both the welterweight and middleweight division through his time with the company that began in 2012. He's been KO'd just once in the UFC (Stephen Thompson in 2014), but moved up to middleweight after that, where he's posted a perfect 9-0 record. He has a slight edge in volume striking over Adesanya, in addition to a highly-regarded chin. This five-round affair should be a close and exciting fight that produces high fantasy outputs, as both men are expected to stay on their feet and slug it out.
Looking at late-summer return
MiddleweightUFC
February 27, 2019
Whittaker (hernia) told Ariel Helwani of ESPN on Monday that he is hopeful to be back in the Octagon in August.
ANALYSIS
Whittaker was forced to withdraw from his most recent title defense against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234, and was ultimately taken to the hospital to undergo surgery for a hernia and collapsed bowel. The condition was considered life-threatening at the time, but the recovery process for "Bobby Knuckles" seems to be going well. In approximately four weeks, Whittaker plans to resume training and will be back in the cage by August if all goes well. Due to this absence, the UFC has scheduled an interim middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum for UFC 236 in April, putting the winner in line to face Whittaker in a unification bout in August.
Surgery called 'serious and complicated'
MiddleweightUFC
February 10, 2019
Whittaker expects to be discharged from a Melbourne hospital Thursday following Saturday's 3.5 hour surgical procedure, Ariel Helwani of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
It's been an incredibly difficult weekend to say the least for the UFC's middleweight champion, who was forced to withdraw from his title defense on the day of the fight and undergo emergency hernia surgery. Initial reports suggested a four-week absence, though many familiar with this type of procedure have intimated that it has the potential to keep Whittaker on the shelf much longer. Helwani reports that there is currently no timetable for return after what he described as a "serious and complicated surgery." It's too early to tell if the UFC intends to create an interim middleweight title while Whittaker goes through the recovery process, but that will presumably be evaluated in roughly four weeks. A fight between Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya certainly has some appeal, with the winner presumably facing Whittaker in a unification bout once he is healthy.