UFC 298: Volkanovski v Topuria
Robert Whittaker | Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Robert Whittaker is rolling with the punches.

This weekend, Whittaker was supposed to face Khamzat Chimaev in the main event of UFC Saudi Arabia; however, this past Thursday, Chimaev withdrew from the card due to illness, and up-and-coming middleweight contender Ikram Aliskerov has stepped in to replace him. It’s a big change for Whittaker, who goes from fighting one of the most popular fighters in the division, to someone he didn’t even know about until he got the call.

“I had a pretty Chimaev-ready game plan,” Whittaker told New York Post Sports. “Chimaev’s a pretty unique fighter and fights a unique way, so I had a game plan I’d worked for months leading into that. But Ikram brings a different threat to the table. I hadn’t heard of him or seen him fight before that. Sometimes you’ve got to just take things as they come. I have full faith in my skillset and my ability.”

It’s not unreasonable that Whittaker had never heard of Aliskerov as the highly-touted up-and-comer only made his UFC debut last year. But in that time, he’s scored back-to-back first-round knockout wins, making some view him as the dark horse contender at 185 pounds. But Whittaker isn’t too worried.

“He’s alright. I’ve watched some tape,” Whittaker said of Aliskerov. “There’s not a lot of tape out there on him. There’s not too much, to be honest…

“My skillset adapts pretty well to a lot of different fighters. I jumped into the gym that day and worked on different angles and things that I can work on. More or less just strengthen my own skillset, keep sharpening my own weapons.

“My game plan for Chimaev was similar as well. I throw out my game plan and dictate the pace and control the fight in a way that they have to worry about what I’m going to bring to the table.”

But the question is, should Whittaker have even accepted this fight? The former middleweight champion is going from what looked to be a title eliminator matchup, to a hard fight against a relative unknown. It’s a big risk for “Bobby Knuckles” but one he says he never even considered passing on.

“This is what I do for a living,” Whittaker said. “That is the upshot. I get to do what I’m good at and earn a decent living off it. I get to put food on the table for my family. That’s the upshot. This is what I was born to do and I’m going to do it…

“I’ve got to win this and then we’ll worry about everything after. That’s how I’ve approached everything. Even with the Chimaev fight, it was just about winning the fight. Winning opens doors. No matter how you win, no matter who you beat, it opens doors for you. That’s the nature of the game.”

UFC Saudi Arabia takes place this Saturday at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh.


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Post Show.

The entire Silva vs. Sonnen fight.

Free fights.


Throwing some shade.


Father’s Day.


Well, well, well. That’s three wells, which is just the right number of them as I didn’t think I’d ever be back on the TMR streets. Yet here I am, Jed Meshew, the longest tenured Morning Reporter, called back to service while Drake is out. But never fear, Drake will be back tomorrow. This was just a brief walk down memory lane for me.

Thanks for reading and love y’all.


If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also, follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Author: Staff

Please go to MMAFighting.com to read full article.

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