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Robert Whittaker has been itching to make his first title defense after Yoel Romero failed to make weight for their UFC 225 bout. Who better to share the cage with him than fellow “The Ultimate Fighter” winner and coach, Kelvin Gastelum.
The two heavy-hitting middleweights will clash for the title at UFC 234 on Feb. 9. As Whittaker prepares to perform in front of his friends and family in Australia, read about the numbers that have elevated his mixed martial arts career.
6: Years old when his father enrolled him in a karate school. Whittaker trained the art for around eight years and earned his black belt. When they moved to Menai, Sydney, he switched to hapkido, and when the school transformed into an MMA gym, he had no choice but to train in the sport that would lead him to stardom.
8: Fights in Cage Fighting Championships, where he went 7-1. Whittaker started with six straight wins before trying his hand at Legend Fighting Championship. He returned to CFC and knocked out Ian Bone. Afterward, he lost a decision to Bellator MMA veteran Jesse Juarez in a five-round affair.
2: Losses before getting signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Before his defeat to Juarez at CFC 21, he suffered a setback to Hoon Kim, who submitted him via triangle choke at LFC 6.
2: Fights without a loss to start his UFC career. Whittaker made his way to “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” Finale by finishing Luke Newman and Xavier Lucas. In the finale, he defeated Brad Scott. This successful debut set the tone for his next fight, which ended with a TKO finish of Colton Smith.
136: Significant strikes landed on those first two victories. Right off the bat, Whittaker showed that he’s an active striker with power in his hands. He battered both his opponents who could only land a combined 88 significant strikes.
1: Back-to-back losses in his career. After winning two straight, he suffered the first back-to-back losses of his career. He lost a decision to Court McGee at UFC Fight Night 27 and was stopped by Stephen Thompson at UFC 170.
128: Significant strikes landed on Yoel Romero in their rematch. It was a hard-fought win, which saw the Cuban landing 111 significant strikes. This back-and-forth battle was chosen not only as Fight of the Night but also Fight of the Year.
7: Post-fight bonuses to his credit. Whittaker earned Performance of the Night awards for his conquests of Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson and Ronaldo Souza. He co-earned Fight of the Night awards for his bouts with Brunson, Clint Hester and twice with Yoel Romero.
0: Submission victories inside the Octagon. However, he had five submission wins before joining the UFC, three by rear-naked choke and two via armbar.
9: Wins by KO or TKO. His victims inside the Octagon are Smith, Hester, Tavares, Brunson and Souza. Outside of the UFC, he knocked out Chris Tallowin, Nick Ariel, Bone and Shaun Spooner.
41: Percent striking accuracy. In his 13-fight UFC career, Whittaker has attempted 1,901 significant strikes and landed 774 of them.