In a fight with championship hopes on the line, Aussie Robert Whittaker (24-6) defeated fellow Middleweight contender Marvin Vettori (18-6-1) by unanimous decision in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 209.
The win for Whittaker keeps him at the top of the division and takes him one step closer to another title shot.
Coming into this fight the stakes were high, given that both fighters had lost twice to current Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (23-1).
The winner of this fight would take a step closer to one last run at the title and a loss to either man would be a massive blow, but when it was all said and done it was Whittaker who showed his class in front of the hostile French crowd.
The fight started off as a slow feeling out process with Whittaker using his jab to keep Vettori on the outside. The Italian tried to press the action but the Aussie was able to stay just out of range.
Although there were moments in the first round where Vettori had success with cutting off the cage and getting into the pocket, he wasn’t able to consistently land due to Whittaker’s superior movement and defence.
The second round was where the Italian’s struggle with Whittaker’s range game started to become more evident, as the Aussie started to outland him at will.
The Reaper was very unpredictable with his attacks especially when it came to his trademark right headkick, as instead of constantly setting it up with a jab-cross he would blast the kick out of nowhere.
According to the official UFC Statistics, Whittaker outlanded his Italian foe in terms of combined head and body attacks, landing 20 as opposed to Vettori’s five.
Vettori started the third round aggressively, where he clipped the Aussie a few times with his left hand.
In response, Whittaker used feints to put Vettori off rhythm before landing a hard head kick.
Whittaker started to press the action, but the ‘Italian Dream’ showed his durability as he didn’t seem to budge.
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Knowing he was clearly down on the cards, Vettori tried to press forward but still did not have an answer to Whittaker’s superior range game. When the fight was brought to the centre of the octagon in the final minute, the Aussie faked a right cross to secure a beautiful takedown.
As the two got up Vettori pressed the action until the round ended, but when it went to the scorecards it was Whittaker who picked up the unanimous decision victory (30-27×2, 29-28).
In his post fight interview with Michael Bisping, Whittaker stated that he wants another shot at the Middleweight crown.
“Including the champion, I am the most dangerous man in the division” Whittaker said.
“I make people hate fighting, I take the love out of it for them.
“As for who’s next, I’m always gunning for that top spot, I’m just going to be lurking there waiting.”
With this win, Robert Whittaker retained his position as the best Middleweight outside of the champion. One more win under his belt could see him next fight Israel Adesanya or Alex Perieria (6-1), who fight for the title later this year.
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