5 Things You Might Not Know About Robert Whittaker

By Guy Portman Feb 8, 2019
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Robert Whittaker (20-4) is the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s reigning middleweight champion. In his next appearance, the Australian will defend his belt against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234, which takes place in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, on Feb. 9.

As we approach the title fight, here are five things that you might not know about Australia’s first UFC champion.

He’s unbeaten at middleweight.

Whittaker’s move from welterweight to middleweight surprised many in the industry. Their opinion was that the Australian was too small for 185. Any concerns regarding his size were vanquished at UFC Fight Night 55, when “The Reaper” defeated opponent Clint Hester by TKO. His striking prowess has proven potent in his new weight division. He’s currently 8-0 as a middleweight with four of those victories coming by way of knockout.

He started training at a young age.

It was Whittaker’s father who first introduced him to combat sports at the tender age of six. Both he and his brother started out in Goju-ryu karate. Eight years later, the fledgling fighter earned his black belt. A move to Hapkido followed, and shortly thereafter he commenced training in MMA under the tutelage of his coach Henry Perez. Today, the middleweight’s origins in karate can be seen in his preference for engaging his rivals on the feet, where he merges quick, non-telegraphed kicks with efficient boxing combinations.

He volunteers his time to help disadvantaged youths.

Whittaker has a reputation as a humble family man who enjoys assisting those less fortunate than himself. He’s often to be found teaching young people for free at his local gym, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Smeaton Grange, in his hometown of Sydney. He has also travelled to the outback in order to visit remote indigenous communities. There, the influential sportsman has given motivational speeches and conducted training sessions.

He used to play rugby.

Whittaker, like many of his fellow New South Wales compatriots, is an avid fan of rugby. It was his father who first instilled the love of the game on him. He developed into a talented player who dreamed of playing for South Sydney. However, his burgeoning combat sports obsession eventually led to him leaving the sport to focus on a fighting career. To this day, Whittaker remains a die-hard fan of rugby league. When he’s not training, raising his young family and volunteering, he can be found in front of the television enjoying a match.

He was on “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Whittaker enrolled on “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” in 2012. The season matched a team of eight mixed martial arts combatants from Australia against a team from the United Kingdom. His stint on the show started impressively with a 19-second blowout of Luke Newman. The emphatic KO earned the young Aussie a $25k bonus for Knockout of the Season. In the semi-final, “The Reaper” faced replacement combatant and teammate Xavier Lucas, who he dominated en route to a first round TKO. The win saw Whittaker advance to the season finale, where he made his official UFC debut opposite of the UK’s Brad Scott at UFC FX 6. After fifteen minutes of competitive action, the Australian emerged victorious by unanimous decision. Advertisement