The Weight Cutting Chronicles: UFC 254

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Robert Whittaker UFC
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 24: Robert Whittaker of New Zealand poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 24, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker (21-5 MMA, 12-3 UFC)

Welterweight (170lbs): 3-2 (UFC), The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes Welterweight Tournament Winner

Middleweight (185lbs): 9-1 (UFC), Former UFC Middleweight Champion

Robert’s UFC journey began when he won the TUF: The Smashes season in the summer of 2012.  Whittaker, a member of Team Australia, KO’d his opponent in the Quarterfinals, TKO’d his opponent in the semi-finals and then earned a unanimous decision over his opponent Brad Scott at the finale in December of 2012 to win the tournament.

Whittaker won the UFC contract but his stint in the UFC welterweight division was less than ideal as he not only went 3-2 while in the division, but struggled with an excessive weight cut. Whittaker stands at 6’0″ tall and has a 73.5″ reach. Robert suffered a first-round finish loss against Stephen Thompson, which signaled the tail end of his career at welterweight. Whittaker spent camps losing weight as opposed to training for very technical fighters such as Wonderboy. Robert was 23 years old when he took his last fight at 170lbs against Mike Rhodes in June of 2014. Robert described the move up to middleweight telling fightersonlymag.com in 2017 that:

“Now I’m fully fueled for every session of every day. I’m focusing a lot more on the technical side of things and I can feel myself improving day by day as my focus is purely on fighting – and fighting on a full stomach, too. It’s really night and day compared to what my training camps used to be like.”

Robert moved up to the middleweight division to face Clint Hester in 2014, where he would get a second-round finish. That sparked Whittaker’s eight fight winning streak that saw him capture the title and defend it against Yoel Romero in two truly brutal fights. Whittaker was able to survive ferocious blows from much larger men when he wasn’t subjected to a huge draining weight cut, as opposed to when he was stopped by Wonderboy at welterweight. Whittaker also capitalized on his move up because his fight style involved lots of movement and landing fast strikes on his opponents. Whittaker lost the belt to Israel Adesanya in October of 2019, giving him his first loss in over 5 years and his first loss since moving up to 185lbs.

Amazingly even now Whittaker is still cutting a good bit of weight and told MMAnews.com recently in an interview that he’s not opposed to moving up again in the future, even:

“We’ll see how I age,” “If it reaches a point where I’m just sick of cutting weight, then yeah 100% move up, “But right now I’m pretty comfortable and happy with everything flown. There’s so much movement going on in the (middleweight) division. There’s new names getting thrown in and old names thrown out, and vice versa of the Top 10. It’s just alive, it’s a moving beast. It’s crazy.”

Robert Whittaker competed in some freestyle wrestling tournaments and won gold at the 2015 Australia Cup, 2017 Australian Nationals, and the 2017 AUS Commonwealth Trials. All three events took place at 97 kg or about 214lbs. So he is in fact, still cutting a whole lot of weight and it really makes you think about how he ever made 170lbs.

Robert Whittaker at UFC 254 is going to be facing a man in Jared Cannonier that has not only been a heavyweight in the UFC before but has also KO’d another 240+ pound heavyweight while in the division. Whittaker is definitely going to use speed and movement like in his last performance against Darren Till in order to get the job done on October the 24th.

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