A year ago at UFC 213, Robert Whittaker handed Yoel Romero his first UFC loss and his first defeat in six years. This alone was a remarkable feat to achieve against a fighter who is deemed by many to be the most terrifying 185-pounder in the UFC today.
But for the reigning middleweight champion, holding a victory over Romero does not really give him an extra boost of confidence coming into their rematch this weekend at UFC 225.
”Some people ask me: Does it give you any confidence knowing that you’ve already beaten him once? I’ve got to say ‘not really’ because he hits like a truck and it only takes one to get you,” Whittaker told ESPN. “He’s a human specimen, to begin with, and he’s one of the most athletic, explosive and talented humans on the planet. So every time I step in there with him it’s 50/50.”
According to the 27-year-old fighter, facing a fighter of Romero’s caliber has forced him to push himself beyond his limits, both physically and mentally.
”I’m constantly pushing my mental capacity well over its cap,” Whittaker said. “I’m thinking about his takedowns; I’m thinking about not getting hit with his sledgehammer hands. I’m tired, I need to initiate the attack; I have to push him, he has to push me. That, for 25 minutes, it takes a toll.”
“It’s more mentally taxing than physically taxing.”
While defending the belt is his current objective, Whittaker’s ultimate goal is far beyond just that.
”I want to be the best fighter ever, there ever was, there ever has been; there ever could be,” Whittaker said. “And the only way I can do that is by fighting everyone and just stopping everyone.”
UFC 225 is scheduled to take place on June 9th in Chicago, Illinois. It will be co-headlined by the interim welterweight title fight between Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington.