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Former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight king Robert Whittaker says he feels like the pressure valve has been released after losing his belt to Israel Adesanya at UFC 243 in October.
“The Reaper” was on the receiving end of a second-round knockout from Adesanya, losing his title on home soil in spectacular fashion. The 28-year-old, who was a recent guest on The Ariel Helwani MMA Show, said while he was disappointed he lost the belt, there was a sense of relief of not having to deal with the expectation as the champion (via MMA Mania):
“Yeah I kind of, I didn’t really like it that much. It’s one of those things that, it comes with some pros, but the cons really starting distracting me,” Whittaker said. “There’s a lot of media, a lot of expectations and a lot of self-imposed pressure. It didn’t agree with me super-well.
“I’ve always been the sort of guy who just likes to fight. I like the challenge, I like the next opponent. I like to work at just how I’m going to beat you. Another thing is, I love being the underdog. I love people just writing me off like, ‘You’re going to lose.’ I love the struggle.”
Whittaker revealed the loss to “The Last Stylebender” has reinvigorated him and he is chomping at the bit for his next fight, which is rumored to be against Darren Till in London on March 21.
“I just focused one fight after the next after the next. And I just enjoyed it, loved doing it. I am now hungrier than ever, honestly I can say that,” Whittaker said. “I am excited for the next fight and I am excited for what the future brings for next year. And I just can’t wait to get back in there.”