Robert Whittaker On Darren Till: I’ve Never Hated Any Of My Opponents

Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker took a much publicised break from the sport, after he lost his title to Israel Adesanya at UFC 243 last October. The loss ended his nine fight winning streak. We were first made aware that ‘Bobby Knuckles’ would be taking a break from the fight game when he withdrew from his UFC 248 clash with Jared Cannonier, for personal reasons.

The 29-year-old recently opened up on the motivation issues he was facing, which were the reason he decided to take a break from the sport.

However, speaking to MMA Junkie, Whittaker revealed that after spending some time with his family, he started to feel much better, and got the itch to fight again.

“So when I felt burned out, I didn’t feel like training, I didn’t feel like fighting, I didn’t feel like working, period. Anything, any work – I didn’t want to do anything,” he said. “I just wanted to couch potato, if you would. So when I was on my break and I was just spending a lot of time with the family, I was just feeling really good. I was just doing things that I wanted to do. I was playing a lot of video games, reading books, pottering around the backyard. I was just doing me.

“And then that itch, that hunger to grind, to get back into training, to work on my combat, to fight again, to get back in that limelight – that all started coming back,” Whittaker continued. “That all started coming back. That fire got lit and it started burning brighter and brighter until it reached a point that I realized I haven’t lost the fire and the will to train and to fight. I was just burned out.”

Whittaker was scheduled to comeback and face Darren Till at UFC Dublin in August. Although it’s looking likely that the card will be cancelled because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In the last couple of weeks, they have both taken to social media to express an interest in a catchweight fight on Dana White’s Fight Island.

The two middleweights appear to be building a close friendship with each other. Discussing Till, Whittaker stated that he doesn’t think fighters have to hate their opponents in order to compete.

“I find him funny,” he said. “I think a lot of his posts are funny. He seems like my sort of cat. He’s the sort of guy that I can tell like we’re going to punch on and be friends afterwards. But [I’m] certainly looking forward to the fight.

“Just because we fight doesn’t mean we have to hate each other. I’ve never understood that. I understand fighting is very serious and there’s a lot into it and I treat it as such, but I’ve never hated any of my opponents. It just is what it is. This is our job.”

Till made a transition to middleweight after two consecutive losses at welterweight against Tyron Woodley and Jorge Masvidal. Nonetheless, he won the debut in the heavier division against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 244 last November. Having been scheduled to fight Gastelum himself, Whittaker recognised that Till did a good job that night.

“I think it was a very smart fight. I thought he fought to a perfect game plan,” Whittaker said. “Gastelum is very dangerous. Obviously, I was preparing for him that first time, so I understand and I’ve seen a lot of tape. He’s a dangerous guy and Till worked him out and put on a really good performance, in my opinion.

“I think Till is very dangerous – very, very dangerous. His range and distance finding is uncanny, so I’m going to have to take the fight with a lot of respect, give him respect, and take the fight like any other: train hard, get in there and just see what happens.”

Who do you have winning, when they meet inside the Octagon, Robert Whittaker or Darren Till?

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