KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The UFC’s title picture at middleweight is in an odd state of flux right now, and that’s not helping Robert Whittaker.
Champion Michael Bisping next will defend the belt against former welterweight titleholder Georges St-Pierre – but a date hasn’t been set for St-Pierre’s return from a retirement of more than four years.
In the meantime, the middleweight division’s elite behind the champ are left to just sit and wonder when Bisping will fight again, and if he’ll keep the belt. And if he does, who will be next in line after “GSP.”
On Saturday at UFC on FOX 24 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., Whittaker (18-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) cleared up some of the potential candidates when he took out Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (23-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC) with relative ease with a TKO. The card aired on FOX following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
“I’m on my title run, and I want that belt,” Whittaker told MMAjunkie after the event. “If Bisping loses that fight, or if he’s tied up or whatever, I want that belt. Wherever it goes, I want it.”
Souza was about a 3-1 favorite to topple Whittaker, but Whittaker cruised right over him. Despite some initial danger, Whittaker fought through it and took out Souza in a big way.
Souza was ranked No. 4 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMajunkie MMA middleweight rankings heading into the fight with Whittaker, who was No. 7. But he took himself right out of the immediate title picture.
Whittaker said he and his team prepared for the kind of trouble Souza would bring – and that kept him well-prepared.
“‘Expect’ is not the word – I prepared for the fight to be that way,” Whittaker said. “I’ve been training countless hours in the gym, out of the gym. We went through all the situations and scenarios that could possibly happen, and we drilled them. And this was a scenario that arose. I’d been working that, and I executed the game plan.”
For more from Whittaker, check out the video above.
For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 24, check out the UFC Events section of the site.
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