Nothing crazy here, just a little update on our #KiwiUFC champ Robert Whittaker's future in the middleweight division. A few weeks ago, when it was announced that Michael Bisping would fight against Georges St-Pierre for the middleweight title belt, I outlined how this was a low key win for Whittaker, although there were still a few people who thought all this was dumb and that Whittaker deserved to fight both, before they fought each other.
Reasons why this is good for Whittaker:
- He went into the Yoel Romero fight with a bung knee, then got that knee stomped on. Whittaker needs time to heal that knee.
- Whittaker has had three fights between November 2016 and August 2017. Three fights in eight months, so yeah, Whittaker deserves a break in general, let alone with a bung knee and hand niggles that he's managed throughout his career.
- The dust will settle. Whittaker is the up and comer, the lad with his best years ahead of him and remember that he's got his best years ahead of him after storming through the division. Whittaker can let the dust settle on how the middleweight landscape looks, then go about middleweight domination.
- Whittaker has time to develop his fighting even further, which is scary.
- This isn't a plus for Whittaker, but it also suits the UFC to line up this Bisping vs St-Pierre fight at the same time as Whittaker is figuratively hibernating. Bisping vs St-Pierre will be a big money fight, it accommodates the return of a legend and allows Whittaker time to chill. Wins on all fronts.
Now we have word straight from the horse's mouth that St-Pierre is contractually obligated to fight Whittaker, if St-Pierre beats Bisping. St-Pierre dropped this little bit of info on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani and signals a slight shift in the narrative at St-Pierre is not only keen to make a UFC return, but if he wins he'll defend his belt. This ain't no smash and grab from St-Pierre.
St-Pierre did however say that if he loses, he'll retire. That's not so relevant to our specific Whittaker context though as Whittaker will simply move straight to Bisping, what's interesting is that Whittaker is now guaranteed a title fight. This was moved from a common sense, to Dana White saying Whittaker will fight the winner of Bisping vs St-Pierre, to St-Pierre saying it's in his contract to fight Whittaker to unify the belts.
Whittaker is not enduring some sort of relegation to make way for Bisping vs St-Pierre. This isn't a case of Whittaker having to fight a contender-ish fighter like Luke Rockhold or Chris Weidman as interim champ while the Bisping vs St-Pierre fight. Whittaker maintains power here as his future is set in stone and a logical, but completely bias way of looking at this scenario is to view Whittaker as the real champion and that Bisping vs St-Pierre will decide who gets the chance to fight for the title.
Again, that's a fully #KiwiUFC bias working its magic, although it's not crazy to think that Bisping and St-Pierre are fighting for the chance to fight Whittaker; Whittaker's chillin' waiting for the winner to emerge.
Whittaker can fine-tune his current training to develop aspects of his fighting that could come into focus against either Bisping or St-Pierre. There's certainty in that Whittaker knows he will fight either Bisping or St-Pierre and Whittaker can then watch to see how St-Pierre looks on his return, whereas Bisping has no real idea what St-Pierre will serve up given he's been out of the UFC for a few years.
This is also a good time for Whittaker to take stock after a bit of a honeymoon run where a lot has gone right. Now Whittaker can iron out any weakness and make more improvements, or honestly reflect on certain aspects that could have been breezed over in the hurricane of impressive wins and regular fights.
It depends on your perspective, but in this middleweight triangle, a strong case can be made for Whittaker holding the power. And he's the youngest of the three by some margin, with the greatest upside. Whittaker earned this low key dose of power by dominating some highly respected names and he can now watch this unfold from a comfortable vantage point.
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