Whittaker Wants Unique Till Fight After Solving Motivation Issues
Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker took a break from the sport after the knockout loss to Israel Adesanya at UFC 243 in October 2019. In fact, the Australian revealed that he was feeling a lack of desire to compete since 2018.
Talking to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Whittaker addressed his previous long-lasting issues with motivation.
“It’s just like anyone else — sometimes you get up and don’t want to go into work. And other days it’s like you want to go to a hospital to call in sick,” he explained. “You can’t just jump to the conclusion that you’re burnt out. … I was just not enjoying the process at the time.”
It all started after he beat Yoel Romero for the second time at UFC 225, in June of 2018.
“I started feeling like this after the second Romero fight … different things that came up in between just made it worse. [An abdominal] injury everything on the back end of it. Because of that, the need to fight grew but the want to fight declined.”
After more then a year away from the Octagon, Whittaker faced Adesanya in Melbourne in front of a record-breaking crowd, and lost by knockout in the second round. He said that the loss pushed him to deal with the long-lasting issues, he may have otherwise neglected.
“Before the fight, I have to believe I’m the best ever — once you allow doubts in your head you’ve already lost. Physical health, best I’ve ever been. Mentally, maybe not, but it is what it is. I felt great, I just didn’t fight very well. [Defeating Adesanya] would be like putting a Band-Aid on a knife wound and the fallout would’ve been worse. The loss forced me to face it and deal with it.”
Whittaker decided to take a break and implement the necessary changes to his frame of mind, in order to get ready for a comeback.
“I put no dates on needing to come back, when I got the hunger to come back that’s when I knew I was ready to come back. Mid-February I got back in and felt good, was shedding Christmas weight … then all of a sudden there’s a [coronavirus] pandemic.”
The coronavirus outbreak actually enabled the former champion to train without a mental burden of having a strict schedule.
“I didn’t go to the gym at all, I just trained because I wanted to train, which is very different from training when you have to,” he explained. “It was weird — there was no schedules, no alarms or nothing; I’d recommend it to anyone if they can.”
Whittaker currently doesn’t have a scheduled match, but he likes the idea of competing at Dana White’s Fight Island. He was expected to fight Darren Till at UFC Dublin in August, but the event is likely to be cancelled, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Now, he has a new proposal for Till (as transcribed by The Mac Life).
“I really want to come to some sort of agreement with Daz — because I feel like he gets it — that we just don’t train at all. We just don’t train, we do a catchweight at like [195-pounds] and just rock up. Bro, I love that and I’m sure he would love that too. We just dip and chips it up until August and then get in there and light it up. He gets it.”
And Till does, ‘The Gorilla’ responded to Whittaker’s proposal via Instagram, writing “I get it & I want the same thing”.
And confirmed it on Twitter with a definite “Yes”.
Which was music to Whittaker’s ears.
Although they look set to meet inside the Octagon, Whittaker believes he and Till could be good friends.
“I think me and Darren could be mates, he seems like my sort of cat. I think he’s a cool guy and I’m stoked to fight him but he’s like one of the guys I can’t wait to punch on because, honestly, I feel like between me and him, punching on will make us tighter. We’ll become better friends afterwards. That’s just the sort of guy I think he is, and I think he gets it too. Afterwards, we’ll hit the beers — hopefully not too many — and we’ll see what happens.”
Aside from Till, Whittaker would like to get a rematch with Adesanya at some point in the future, but he doesn’t have hard feelings towards the champion.
“[I’ve] never had hard feelings with him,” he said. “We’re not friends. But I’m not friends with most of the world, he doesn’t need more friends, I don’t need more friends. Hopefully we’ll meet again down the road and I get one back.”
With the prospect of facing Till , possibly on a Fight Island with a belly full of chips and dip, Whittaker has rediscovered his passion for fighting. Although he won’t take his desire to fight again for granted.
“Obviously it’s terrifying because this is what I do for a living. You have to love it because it’s too dangerous. It’s scary because if you don’t love it, then you have to get out. And that means I would’ve had to get another job, and I’m not good at anything else.”
Would you like to see Robert Whittaker vs Darren Till at 195lbs, on Dana White’s Fight Island?