Robert Whittaker looks to do it his way at UFC 197 and beyond

By Owen Phillips     18/2/16

UFC 197 Robert Whittaker

Robert Whittaker. Photo: Dave Mandel/

UFC 197  is the next stop for New Zealand born Australian Robert Whittaker and his journey to the top of the middleweight division.

Robert ‘The Reaper’ Whittaker (15-4) is arguably the form mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter coming out of Australia and New Zealand. He is currently ranked 8th in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight rankings.

He managed to shine on the biggest stage at UFC 193 stadium show at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, where he had a decision victory over a flying Uriah Hall. Whittaker is now booked for UFC 197 to face Brazilian Rafael ‘Sapo’ Natal (21-6-1) who himself is on a bit of run of success, culminating in four straight wins.

The UFC 197 lineup includes a headliner between bitter rivals Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier for the light-heavyweight strap and a flyweight co-main event title fight between champion Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo.

These title fights will ensure ‘The Reaper’ has a lot of focus placed on him and gives fight fans who may not know much about him a chance to be fully informed after seeing him at work.

Robert Whittaker recently spoke to Bloody Elbow and detailed his approach to the fight. He said, “I’m going to go into the fight with Natal to really try and incorporate my game…..I’m a striker, and I want him to know that I’m a striker.”

Rafael Natal is a crafty veteran who has excellent Brazilian jiu-jitsu and evolving striking. Whittaker said he wants to focus on doing things his way which is being himself and not changing for any particular opponent. “I need to fight my own style, I can’t really change style to suit opponents, I need to be who I am and develop what I have.”

All Australian and New Zealand fight fans will be hoping Robert Whittaker can keep on improving and claim a UFC championship for that part of the world. He has the right mindset and his quest continues at UFC 197 which takes place on 23rd April in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and can be viewed on Sunday 24th April in Australia on pay-per-view.