UFC 290’s Robert Whittaker on what ‘makes the wins better and the losses easier’

Robert Whittaker and Dricus du Plessis have struggled to say anything of interest leading into their UFC 290 bout.

By: Nate Wilcox | 1 month ago

Whittaker vs du Plessis UFC 290 prefight talk suffering from excessive mutual respect

Some fighters revel in trash talk. Chael Sonnen, the Diaz brothers, Conor McGregor epitomized the old-school approach to fight hyping. But not every fighter is comfortable running their mouth and potentially embarrassing themselves with some predictions that don’t come true or needlessly giving an opponent some motivation to fight even harder.

Sadly, middleweight contenders Dricus du Plessis and Robert Whittaker epitomize this kind of politesse. The prefight jabber going into their title contender elimination bout has frankly been absolutely drained of interest by an excessive amount of mutual respect between the two fighters.

Allegations of ‘gatekeeper’ status

The closest we’ve come to some heat was when du Plessis called Whittaker a ‘gatekeeper’ but if you read past the headline you see he actually called Whittaker “a gatekeeper that just won’t let anybody through.”

And in talking to The Fight Week Show, du Plessis elaborated and made an even stronger case for Whittaker’s worthiness, ““You have to realize that a guy like Whittaker hasn’t lost to anybody [other] than the champion in almost ten years.”

“Seeing a flaw in Whittaker’s game is extremely hard because at the end of the day at this level, seeing flaws and calling it a flaw is really, really hard. Because everybody is so good here in the top five. But the flaw that Whittaker almost has this sense of, ‘No contender can beat me. I beat all the contenders, the only guy who’s ever beaten me is the champ.’

“He has that in his mind, so at some stage I think it’s almost like for him going through the paces up until getting that title shot. And this fight I can promise you will not be a fight of going through the paces. I’m going out there to give him the hardest fight of his whole career.”

If you think du Plessis is being too nice, Whittaker’s even worse

For his part, the former MW champ is even more thoughtful, cautious, and wary of saying something crass, untrue or untoward despite the chorus of UFC fighters out there ripping on du Plessis. Here’s what he told Shak MMA about his UFC 290 opponent (warning: excessive respect):

“(People) underestimate just how tough and resilient (du Plessis) is. He’s got such a well rounded skill set and he’s got no quit. There’s a lot of times in his fights where he’s faced quite serious adversity, where he looks moments from defeat and then comes back to win it.

“And that’s dangerous mate, you know, And you gotta respect that, especially the fact that people think he’s the underdog. People are ruling him out. People are washing him up. He’s got nothing to lose in this fight against me. And I understand what danger that brings to the fight. And, you know, it’s got my full respect.”

Whittaker shares insight about his wife watching his fights

When Shak MMA referenced this video of Whittaker’s wife as the ultimate supportive partner for an MMA fighter which has been viral for over a year now, Bobby Knuckles….sorry The Reaper, did have something at least a little bit unique to say.

Robert Whittaker: I’ve seen this video. Mate, you know. It’s, might go on a bit of a tangent here, but I was speaking to Glover Teixeira once through an interview with the show Fight Week. And I’ve always been hesitant fighting, not hesitant, but reluctant-ish to fight at home, because you know, all your friends and family and every one of your cousins and uncles and aunties want to come to the fight and be a part of it and stuff that it adds a layer of pressure to that.

“And I brought that up to Glover, you know, UFC champion, one of the all time greats. And he said to me that when you bring your family, it’s a risk, (you might lose) in front of them. But then, the other side of the coin is that they share your victories as well.  And I don’t know, it’s just very profound to me. It sunk quite deeply. And that video kinda encapsulates that.

“She shares my defeats, she shares my victories. She gets the spoils and she gets to see me when I’m at my worst as well. It’s just part of the journey, you know, and it makes the wins better and the losses easier.”

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of BloodyElbow.com. As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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