IT’S about time Robert Whittaker was given a big fight by the UFC.
Despite going on a seven fight win streak the Australian has remained stuck in the rankings, as the UFC skipped over him handing others the marquee fights he craves.
Finally he was handed a big name in Brazilian Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Whittaker promptly took him apart in the best performance of his career, suggesting more top contenders are on the horizon.
The win also landed him a $50,000 bonus from the UFC, as he shared performance of the night honours with Demetrious Johnson.
The impressive display saw many on social media call for an immediate UFC title shot, but that might be a little premature.
Well done Whitaker. Unlucky jacare. Chat shit, get banged!
— michael (@bisping) April 16, 2017
THE MIDDLEWEIGHT LOG JAM
Whittaker is unlikely to get a title shot anytime soon.
The UFC have allowed the middleweight division to stagnate somewhat since Michael Bisping took the title.
Bisping is expected to meet UFC legend Georges St Pierre later this year, although the fight is yet to be officially scheduled.
The Englishman is coming back from recent knee surgery and St Pierre is returning to the sport after years away, meaning the UFC will need to afford both the appropriate time to prepare.
Complicating things further in the middleweight division is the fact long-time number one contender Yoel Romero has been promised the next shot at Bisping’s title should he retain it against Canadian legend St Pierre.
Bisping confirmed earlier this year he was offered a bout agreement to fight Romero on April 8, however that fight was scrapped following the middleweight champion’s knee surgery and the emergence of the St Pierre fight on the horizon.
But it’s unlikely Romero would have moved aside without some assurance that he was next in line.
Former champion Luke Rockhold is also still in the picture, but hasn’t fought since Bisping took his title. The fact that fight would also be a rubber match between the pair (currently locked at 1-1 head to head), could push the UFC towards making the fight.
Another issue that will hurt Whittaker is his marketability.
His devastating win over “Jacare” will certainly help increase his profile with fight fans, but the truth is he’s not a guy that sells pay-per-views, despite his all-action style. Like it or not, the revenue a fighter brings can determine the big fights he lands.
Whittaker’s last two fights have not been broadcast on pay-per-view. Sunday’s event in Kansas City was broadcast on Fox Sports, while his win over Derek Brunson on UFC Fight Night Melbourne was broadcast only on the UFC Fight Pass streaming service internationally.
UFC 197, the last pay-per-view appearance of Whittaker also underwhelmed at the box-office, although due to no fault of the Australian.
His four fights prior to that Las Vegas appearance were all on shows held locally in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Auckland.
He’s yet to really feature on a top level card, despite promises to do that by UFC president Dana White.
Simply put, Rockhold, Romero and others are more well-known and have larger followings.
UFC president Dana White conceded at the post-fight press conference that a Whittaker-Bisping fight is not in his plans, at least in the short-term, given the fights already scheduled, and encouraged the Australian to not wait for his shot.
“I’m never a big fan of sitting back and waiting,” White said.
“I’ve seen guys who have opted to sit back and wait and you know what happens, you don’t make any money and you sit around for a long time — people forget very quick.”
So what is Whittaker’s next move if it’s is not for the title?
Former middleweight champion @LukeRockhold just reached out to me to say he’s down to fight Robert Whittaker at UFC 213 on July 8.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 16, 2017
Luke Rockhold signalled his interest at a fight at UFC 213 in July, but Whittaker remained coy at that prospect when questioned at the post-fight press conference.
“It’s news to me. You just told me,” Whittaker said.
“It’s cool, but it’s too fresh. I’ve got to get back home to my kids, let me see my family first, it’s a bit rushed.”
Gegard Mousasi is another in line for a shot at the title and he’s won five fights in a row. Perhaps that’s a fight the UFC is interested in making.
Or even Yoel Romero, despite being considered the next in line at a shot, Bisping-St Pierre continues to be delayed, meaning the Cuban could be back in the Octagon. Could Whittaker be standing opposite?
Anderson Silva says he wants to continue fighting and is currently angling for an opponent. Should the UFC be looking at staging another card on Australian shores, a Whittaker-Silva fight would not only do good business, but perhaps hand “The Reaper” the box office push he needs.
But there’s also a very real chance that Whittaker could be lost in the shuffle, despite coming off the biggest win of his career.
What it means is there’s more hard work to do for Whittaker on the road to the world title.
SOURCE: newsnow sport