Robert Whittaker speaks ahead of his Interim UFC Middleweight Championship bout against Yoel Romero at UFC 213 this weekend.
The New Zealand-born Australian has earned himself an interim title shot after a series of impressive victories, notably over Derek Brunson and Ronaldo Souza, where TKO’s saw him win back-to-back Performance of the Night bonuses.
But now Whittaker faces the mercurial Romero – the number one contender in the division – who has won 11 of his 13 fights via knockout.
“He’s going to push the fight,” the 26-year-old told The Australian.
“He strikes. He’s got amazing wrestling but I’ve got a few tricks to try to stop him, so we’ll see how that goes. This is a field I’m strong in. This is my field. This is my world. Stand-up is my strength and that’s what I’m going to push onto him. Wrestling is his strength but my strength is striking.
“I’ve been striking for a long time. I work it in and out and I’m going to give it to him. I think it’s going to be an absolute war. Yoel is going to bring his best game. That’s going to bring the best game out of me.”
Whittaker added that he is under no illusions what it takes to get to the top of the UFC, which is where he wants to stay. The Karate black belt views this fight against Romero as a necessary step.
“I want to be known as one of the best fighters ever,” he continued.
“So in order to walk that path, I need to fight the toughest and baddest dudes in the world. More than anything this week, more than that shiny belt at the end of it, I get the chance to fight Yoel Romero. He’s such a tough dude and I’m in this game to fight hard dudes.”
UFC boss Dana White revealed that Saturday’s winner will fight current UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping later in the year for the title, meaning the greatness that Whittaker seeks may only be two wins away.