It is said many times over that an athlete is ‘only as good as his last performance.’
In no sport does this ring truer than MMA.
A bad day in the office, just one subpar performance, even a single solitary mistake can set a fighter back years; or worse still.. spell a downward spiral for their career in what is today’s most cutthroat business: The Hurt Game.
It is therefore even more important then that we celebrate the guys ands girls who overperform in relation to the general consensus of opinion, and shine brightest each weekend; regardless of what the current rankings may project: we know that rankings are short lived, but what lives forever are the performances of a lifetime.
It takes a long, long time, to be an overnight success in MMA.
This is where we celebrate it!
This new feature segment is kicked off with today’s Greatest Fight in the World: ROBERT WHITAKER.
On Saturday night, Olympic freestyle wrestling silver medalist Yoel Romero stepped into the Octagon to face the highly touted Robert Whittaker.
On paper Romero was Whittaker’s kryptonite; a better wrestler, an explosive striker and a much larger athlete, but against all odds Whittaker persevered.
Despite all the challenges that Romero provided, Robert Whittaker showcased the Bushido spirit and for that alone he has became our inaugural “greatest fighter in the world right now”.
Robert Whittaker’s story is one of meteoric highs and cataclysmic lows.
The road to the top for the Australian-based athlete is one littered with adversity.
When Whittaker began his foray into mixed martial arts through the most traditional of settings; after training hapkido with notorious instructor Henry Perez, Whittaker was pushed towards integrating more modern submission grappling techniques into his game, eventually beginning to focus on MMA solely as Perez elected to transform his hapkido gym into a more modern MMA center.
Whittaker’s talents were immediately noted by Perez and it was through Perez’s guidance that Whittaker was pushed towards an MMA career while still in his teens.
Whittaker’s propensity for fantastic finishes was noted early on as he stopped his first seven opponents in minutes.. but just as the Aussie man began to get into his stride, he elected to take a fight in China against a savvy submission specialist.
Despite being the much more well-rounded fighter, Hoon Kim would drag Whittaker into his game, submitting him with a tight triangle choke.
Whittaker would rebound with two victories in Australia, but would again taste defeat in a hard fought battle against Jesse Juarez.
The next few years would bring Whittaker widespread notoriety in the form of reality TV stardom.
As one of the youngest castmates in the shows history, Whittaker surprised most viewers when he dominated all foes enroute to becoming the Ultimate Fighter Smashes champion.
After TUF, there was a lot of expectations on Whittaker to push towards being a welterweight star, but in his post-TUF performances he left a lot to be desired.
Whilst showing glimmers of greatness, he ultimately ended up achieving very little in the welterweight division and after suffering two losses in his previous three fights, Whittaker was left to contemplate his future.
With a record of 12-4, Whittaker was at a pivotal point in his career, he had to choose between risking losing everything or settling for mediocrity, but Whittaker ultimately chose the path less traveled; electing to move up a weight class and face much larger opponents at middleweight.
As a middleweight Whittaker has been flawless, he has looked better in every single fight.
His rejuvenation and confidence culminated in some of the most impressiver performances in recent history, most notably his TKO finish of Jacare Souza in April, which earned him his interim title shot against Yoel Romero on Saturday night.
There is something beautiful about a fighter facing adversity and overcoming it; Whittaker stood strong, found calm in the storm that is Romero’s offence and despite dropping the opening two rounds he persevered.
Using pressure throughout, Whittaker used astonishing footwork and shot selection to out-point Romero. Most impressvely, Whittaker was able to handle his own with Romero in grappling exchanges and even stuffed a number of the Olympian’s takedown attempts.
Robert Whittaker achieved the unthinkable and defeated Yoel Romero enroute to winning the UFC interim title and that makes him the greatest fighter on the planet right now.
When asked about the clearly injured left leg that plagued him throughout the fight his answer in the official post fight UFC press conference was typically Aussie “In my expertise” he joked, “its sore.” 👊🏻