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(20-4) is the
Ultimate Fighting Championship
’s reigning middleweight
champion. In his next appearance, the Australian will defend his
belt against Kelvin
, 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
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
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
, 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.