Robert Whittaker discusses the re-booked Michael Bisping vs. George St-Pierre fight, and ultimately having to turn down a TUF coaching spot.
UFC interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has had a pretty wild 2017 so far. After upsetting Ronaldo Souza in April, he was put into a title fight with the beastly Yoel Romero on a featured UFC PPV in July – and beat him, despite suffering a serious knee injury early in the bout. Now, he’s rehabbing the injury and waiting for his shot at the real title. But a certain Canadian just jumped the line again.
In an interview with ESPN, Whittaker talked about full champion Michael Bisping wanting to fight Georges St-Pierre first – a bout that was seemingly dead until Tyron Woodley stunk out the joint against Demian Maia, which convinced UFC president Dana White to go back to the well with it. Surprisingly, Whittaker isn’t bothered by not getting an immediate shot at Bisping:
“Yeah, the injury doesn’t matter, to be honest. Michael’s been bloody harping about that [St-Pierre] fight for how long? The UFC does what it wants. That’s just how it is.”
“Georges isn’t even in this division. It’s not as if someone in the top 10 is jumping the queue. This is a money fight. That’s exactly what it is. It doesn’t bother me. People are going to do what they want. I can’t get upset if it doesn’t work out to my plans, because let’s face it, the UFC is a roller coaster.”
He also said he was offered a coaching slot against Bisping on this season of The Ultimate Fighter, but couldn’t come to terms:
“They approached me right after my fight, but I hadn’t seen my kids and family in weeks,” Whittaker said. “It’s not as if I live two hours away. I live close to 24 hours away. For me to realistically look at that, you need to make it worth my while.
“I would have had to do all my rehab in the States. I would have had to bring my entire family to the States, take my kids out of school. The offer just wasn’t enough. I countered with offers, not just financial figures, but a lot of conditions as well, and we just couldn’t come to an agreement.”
For the record, Whittaker believes he’ll be able to rehab his knee to the point where he’s good to go in eight weeks. He thinks there was a possibility of him being able to fight on the November 4th card against Bisping, but that wasn’t the direction the promotion wanted to go. Instead, it will be St-Pierre vs. Bisping in Madison Square Garden, and Whittaker will likely get the winner.
But you never know. This is the UFC after all.