UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is not sure why everyone in the mixed martial arts world just assumes he’s a nice guy instead of just a normal person.
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Whittaker is set to defend his belt in a middleweight title unification fight against Israel Adesanya at UFC 243 in October. It is one of the more highly-anticipated fights of the year and undoubtedly, the biggest in Australasian history.
It’s made even more interesting by the rivalry between the two, with Adesanya poking the bear and not keeping things cordial with “The Reaper” whatsoever. It’s also a surprise as many view Whittaker as a soft-spoken individual who doesn’t engage in trash talk — so there is no need for Adesanya to be hostile.
For Whittaker, he believes Adesanya is simply building up the fight further. But that doesn’t mean he’s cool with “The Last Stylebender.”
“The thing is, I haven’t done anything differently, I haven’t changed,” Whittaker told Submission Radio.
“Yeah, he’s just gotten mouthy. I guess he had to to get the title shot, which he got due to his performances in the Octagon and the way he sells his fights, which is, all props to him. I think that’s great the way he did it. And that’s kind of how he sells fights and how he does stuff.
“But that’s him though. I’m not playing like that. We’re not cool. Like, you can sell the fight, and I’m happy for you to sell the fight. Actually, I encourage it. But I’m not a part of that little game. Like, we’re not cool. We’re not cool like, I’ll be civil. Like, what am I, an animal? Like, I’ll be civil with him, but I don’t want to talk to him. I don’t want to talk to him, and yeah, we’re not like, we’re not friends.”
Whittaker also takes issue with his “nice guy” reputation in MMA.
While he doesn’t engage in trash talk, it doesn’t mean the Aussie doesn’t take fighting seriously or that he’s trying to manufacture a persona to look good. He’s just trying, in his own words, not to be a shit person.
Let me clear something up quickly, just because I don’t talk trash and I’m not mouthy and I’m not mouthing off like I’m in the schoolyard, doesn’t mean I don’t take this for what it is,” Whittaker explained.
“I am doing everything in my power to break you, because we are going to go fight in an Octagon. And I don’t play this. This isn’t a game to me. I treat this as if this would be my last fight ever, and I always have.
“And I don’t need to smack talk to get in that mind frame, I’m already there. Like, we’re gonna go fight to the death in so many months time and I’m gonna give everything I have, I just don’t smack talk though. But don’t misinterpret that for me not taking the fight seriously.
“I don’t know why everyone calls me a nice guy, to be honest. Like, I’m not nice just because I’m not a dickhead, you know what I mean? I’m just normal, I’m just straight. I feel like, my whole thing wasn’t this thing that I want to be portrayed as this nice guy, I wanna go out there and become a saint, or I want to go out there and just do charity work in my off time. I just don’t want to be a shit person – which is funny enough a lot harder in today’s day and age than it seems.”