Robert Whittaker entertains permanent move to light heavyweight

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Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker considered moving up to the light heavyweight division.

This wouldn’t be the first weight class change for Whittaker (23-6 MMA, 14-4 UFC), who entered the UFC as a welterweight after “The Ultimate Fighter: Australia vs. UK” in 2012. Whittaker’s first five fights with the promotion were at 170 pounds, and he won three of those fights. He then moved up to the middleweight division in 2014 and won eight in a row en route to the title.

With the current state of the division a bit fluctuating as current champion Israel Adesanya circles the division and holds two wins over him, Whittaker came up with the idea for another move.

“I thought about 205 a lot,” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “The problem is I wouldn’t go to 205 to go back down to 185. Just because I don’t want to go to 205 as a big 185 right? You see a lot of guys trying that and they’re just starched. And then they come back down. It doesn’t make sense.

Moving up to the middleweight division turned out to be a smart move for Whittaker. Fighting closer to his natural weight and training the right way to ensure success led him to claim the title. He knew then that a move up meant there would be no turning back.

“So when I went to 185 the first time, there was no way, like I was ever going to go back to 170,” Whittaker said. “Never could. You have to build muscle, you have to train at that weight. I have to do all the chunks and bobs here and there. … I think it’s going to be a more natural weight for me personally, but the disadvantage of size is boring. I don’t know if I would care about that.

Whittaker’s two-time rival Adesanya went for a shot in 2021 to challenge for his second title, but was rebuffed by former champion Jan Blachowicz. Adesanya then returned to middleweight.

Much like when he went from 170lbs to 185lbs, Whittaker knows the move will have to be permanent due to all the changes he would have to make in preparation. At 31, the former champion isn’t ready to say he’s going to make it for sure, but if he does, he’ll be saying goodbye to middleweight forever.

“Once I’ve made the decision to go to 205, I’m there. This will be my division. I would end my career there, for better or for worse. I’m doing great at 185. … I’m definitely one of the most dangerous guys in the division.

Whittaker returns to action at UFC Fight Night 209 to take on Marvin Vettori in the co-main feature. The event takes place on Saturday at the Accor Arena in Paris. The card airs on ESPN+.


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