Robert Whittaker is excited for the chance to rematch Israel Adesanya.
Whittaker will look to reclaim his middleweight title in the main event of UFC 271. It’s an intriguing matchup as they fought back at UFC 243 with Adesanya winning by TKO in the second round. Now, ahead of the rematch, the former champion says he is embracing the underdog role as he knows no one expects him to win.
“I’m the underdog moving into this rematch with Adesanya,” Whittaker said in an interview with Unibet Australia. “(It) makes sense, you know. He already beat me once. He’s the current champ. He’s sitting at the high horse and he beat me the first time. It definitely takes some of the pressure off, being the underdog.
“No one expects me to win. No one expects me to go over there and dethrone him after he beat me already. Throughout my whole career, I’ve loved being the underdog,” Whittaker continued. “I love getting in there and defying the odds. I like going in there and proving people wrong. It gives me that little bit of extra edge.”
Since losing his middleweight title to Adesanya, Whittaker has rallied off three straight wins to earn the title shot. He knows this is a massive fight for his career as if he loses, he likely won’t get another title shot. But, he also says he has changed his style and knows he has what it takes to beat Adesanya.
“As a fighter, I’ve changed plenty because you can see I’m trying to incorporate new angles into my game,” Whittaker said to MMAJunkie. “I’m not the same guy I was then. I’m utilizing a more complete skill set. Most importantly is outside of the octagon. I’m not the same guy I was then. I’m much more at grips with who I am, why I do things, why I train, why I want to win. The most important thing is just winning. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a belt or not. It’s about winning.”