Robert Whittaker thought there was a clear winner in the UFC 297 headliner.
And no, he’s not talking Sean Strickland. Following the fight on Saturday, the former UFC Middleweight Champion believes his former foe, Dricus Du Plessis did enough across the distance to secure the world title.
Everybody else? Not so much, as many fans had scored the main event for Strickland instead. For Whittaker, he doesn’t understand all of the hoopla.
“I don’t know why it’s controversial, I genuinely don’t,” Whittaker said on the MMArcade Podcast. “I’ve seen a lot of other fighters and even Dana White himself saying like, he didn’t think [DDP] won the fight. I thought he won the fight. I’ll say congratulations to Dricus because man, he wanted it.”
“He’s a big strong guy. He’s awkward as hell to fight. But one of his things is like, he goes out on a shield. He’s not gonna go away. He will not give up. He’ll need to leave that octagon on stretcher and mate, that’s exactly what he did. That’s exactly what he showed.”
Whittaker, who once held middleweight gold years ago, pays respect to the newly-crowned champion from South Africa.
“I will say congratulations to the new champ because he wanted it more,” Whittaker said of Du Plessis. “Everyone thought in the championship rounds, four, five, Strickland was trying to start, getting it over him. Mate, Dricus did not go away. You saw his face after the fight, you saw the jabs mate, the commentators and everybody and their friends wouldn’t shut up about the jab, understandably. He threw it at Dricus’ face about 7,000 times.”
“But, let’s give a little props to Dricus cause he didn’t go away. Was throwing Overhands from the start to the literal finish, just pushing into him. You only fight like that and fight through that, being hungry, wanting it, and being willing to leave it all there. I thought personally he won the fight. I thought he just wanted it more. I gave him the later rounds. I thought it was close to first round even, but I gave that to Strickland. But, I thought [Du Plessis] took the other rounds.”
Watching Dricus Du Plessis leave it all on the line against Sean Strickland, Robert Whittaker says he didn’t know what he was in for in his own fight with ‘Stillknocks’ at UFC 290 in which he lost by TKO.
“Seeing that fight from him, it made me realize that I did not prepare adequately for him. I did not give him the respect he deserves. I understand he was a hard and tough fighter, but I don’t think I understood how tough and strong and hungry he really was. Respect to that. I won’t make that mistake again.”
Robert Whittaker is set to return against Paulo Costa at UFC 298 on Feb. 17.