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Rob Whittaker’s next fight is locked in, but it’s not happening down under


Rob Whittaker, UFC, Australia, khamzat Chimaev

Rob Whittaker’s road back to the top of the UFC‘s Middleweight division takes an unexpected turn, given the recent announcement that the promotion has a card in Perth a little later this year.

The king of Middleweight will be determined in Western Australia in August, but that’s not featuring The Reaper.

Instead, the Aussie will be involved in the UFC’s first ever event in Saudi Arabia; a fight he’ll need to win to stay in the hunt for another title shot.

He’s coming off a return to the winner’s list against Paulo Costa at UFC 298, although boss Dana White is well and truly making Whittaker work for his redemption arc.

It’s not exactly a surprise, given that the showdown in Perth features two dangerous middleweights that have both beaten Bobby Knuckles — Israel Adesanya and Dricus du Plessis.

But after five years fighting away from home, the timing felt right for the south-west Sydney-sider to enjoy a homecoming. The only fight he’s lost down under was against Adesanya, winning his other five appearances on Australian shores.

But maybe some time down the track. For now, let’s focus on what’s been confirmed for The Reaper in the UFC.

Rob Whittaker’s next fight

Here are all the details.

Who, when and where?

Rob Whittaker (3) v Khamzat Chimaev (11)

Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, Saudi ArabiaUFC Fight Night

DATE: Sunday, June 23

This aspect was a bit of a shock, since there’s an Australian-based card in Perth in August.

But the UFC is putting The Reaper back in the octagon sooner than that, after his win at 298, in what’s being dubbed a title eliminator fight.

Meantime, the middleweight belt will, of course, be up for grabs in Perth instead.

Whittaker, though, will have to be patient and precise if he wants to secure a path back into contention.

Who’s Khamzat Chimaev?

Whittaker, third in line for a shot at the title, will have to deal with rising star Khamzat Chimaev. The 29-year-old comes with an imposing record, having never been beaten in the octagon across both his amateur and professional fights.

It’s being labelled a tough ask for Chimaev, according to MMA experts. The Russian has a 7-0 record in the UFC, coming off a win at UFC 294 against Kamaru Osman at Middleweight. Osman, the high profile Nigerian who claimed 20 consecutive professional wins before suffering a first defeat, was debuting at Middleweight and ended up losing by majority decision to Chimaev.

This is another step up for Chimaev, as it’ll be his first time in a Main Event and his first time bumping up to a five-rounder — and the Russian is known to gas out in fights.

Rob Whittaker, UFC, Australia
Aussie star Rob Whittaker

Future possibilities for Whittaker

Should Bobby Knuckles get past Chimaev, and in style, it potentially gives him a look at one of the division’s top contenders Sean Strickland, or even a title fight against the winner of du Plessis and Adesanya‘s Perth showdown.

If Rob loses this one, the possibility of him climbing back to the top of Middleweight will start looking very slim.

Whittaker’s last five fights

Whittaker beat Costa (UD), February 2024, UFC 298

On the night Alex Volkanovski relinquished his UFC Featherweight Belt for the first time in forever, Rob Whittaker recorded a gutsy win over Paulo Costa, in which he withstood some monstrous shots.

Whittaker lost to Du Plessis (TKO), 8 July 2023, UFC 290

Rob Whittaker fell to some vicious punches by South African fighter Dricus Du Plessis. It was the first time he’d been stopped since 2019 (against Adesanya).

Whittaker beat Marvin Vettori (UD), 3 September 2022, UFC Fight Night

Fighting at the UFC Paris card, Rob Whittaker resoundingly defeated Marvin Vettori with an all-around performance complete with every skill in his arsenal.

Whittaker lost to Adesanya (UD), 12 February 2022, UFC 271

In Houston, Texas, Rob Whittaker attempted to reclaim the UFC Middleweight belt he’d lost to Adesanya 3 years prior. He was unsuccessful.

Whittaker beat Gastelum (UD), 17 April 2021, UFC Whittaker v Gastelum

Rob Whittaker beat Kelvin Gastelum in a fight which was eventually awarded Fight of the Night.

Picture of Kyle Robbins
Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

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