UFC Fight Island 3: Robert Whittaker Calls “Stressful” Fight with Till “the Most Technical Striking Match I’ve Ever Had”

Robert Whittaker and Darren Till, UFC Fight Island 3
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 26: Robert Whittaker of New Zealand celebrates after his victory over Darren Till of England in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 26, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Even the most casual of fights fans could have recognized the chess match that transpired over the course of five rounds in the UFC Fight Island 3 main event. Ex-middleweight champ Robert Whittaker and Darren Till went back and forth for 25 minutes. Both men scored early knockdowns. Both worked to set up traps and draw one another in.

While it wasn’t the type of brawl that gets the juices flowing in the “just bleed” types, it was an entertaining enough striking battle. One that Whittaker earned the victory in, with 48-47 scores on all three scorecards.

Speaking at the post-fight press conference, Whittaker (21-5) called the match-up with Till a “stressful fight.” And one “That was the most technical striking match I’ve ever had.”

Building on that statement, “The Reaper” explained that “It was a chess match. I got a bit antsy in the first round, and he made me pay for it.” That payment, of course, came by way of a Till elbow that dropped the former champ.

Whittaker’s immediate thought following that knockdown was “not like this!”

“But honestly I got back out, like ‘gotta get back to work.’ Changed it up a little bit,” Whittaker continued. “And it was just a chess match from then. He was waiting for me to come in. I was waiting for him to come in.”

The win comes in Robert Whittaker’s first fight back from losing his title to Israel Adesanya last year. His burn out with the fight game, and pulling out of a bout with Jared Cannonier in March, have been well documented. Even now, he’s not thinking about a title shot. “Not really, to be honest,” he said post-fight on Saturday.

Instead, Whittaker is focused on getting home to his wife and kids. But that doesn’t mean that he’s lost faith, or no longer believes he is championship material.

“Honestly I am championship level. Everyone can see that, everyone’s always known that,” exclaimed Whittaker. “I wasn’t myself last fight. I believe that. Not to take anything away [from Israel Adesanya], he’s a great striker.”

“I’m a champion. With the belt, without the belt, it doesn’t matter,” Whittaker added.