Sport Whittaker to push pace in UFC title bout

11:50  06 june  2018
11:50  06 june  2018 Source:   msn.com

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Supremely well prepared UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is planning to push the pace against veteran and old foe Yoel Romero, who is acutely aware of the storm heading his way. Whittaker makes the first defence of his title on Sunday (AEST)

UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker says he's in the best shape of his career and will step it up against Yoel Romero in Chicago on the weekend.

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Supremely well prepared UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is planning to push the pace against veteran and old foe Yoel Romero, who is acutely aware of the storm heading his way.

Whittaker makes the first defence of his title on Sunday (AEST) against the Cuban he outpointed in Las Vegas last July, when he won the interim title on a points decision.

Fully fit after overcoming illness and injury for much of last year and early 2018, Whittaker said he was in his best ever shape.

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Robert Whittaker , left, punches Yoel Romero in their interim UFC middleweight championship bout Las Vegas last July. Supremely well prepared UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is planning to push the pace against veteran and old foe Yoel Romero

Robert Whittaker , left, punches Yoel Romero in their interim UFC middleweight championship bout Las Vegas last July. Supremely well prepared UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is planning to push the pace against veteran and old foe Yoel Romero

"You're going to see a better Robert Whittaker," Sydneysider Whittaker told AAP in Chicago.

"I'm definitely going to go there and try and put it on him, push the pace a bit.

"Just force my game plan on him and see how he reacts to that."

Whittaker described the physically imposing Romero as an "absolute specimen of a human" and hoped age was catching up on the 41-year-old challenger,

Robert Whittaker. © Getty Images Robert Whittaker. Romero was confident of being able to go five five-minute rounds with 27-year-old Whittaker, declaring he was in shape to go ten.

He knows what's coming his way though.

Asked what he expected of Whittaker, Romero said "he's coming to attack."

He had no concerns about making the weight after failing to come in under the middleweight limit for his last fight when he stopped Luke Rockhold for the interim title, after stepping in as a replacement for Whittaker in Perth back in February.

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READ MORE: * Whittaker to push pace in title defence * Fighting Romero 'a pain' * Hooker opens gym in Auckland * Hunt offered UFC bout in Russia. Romero will have to hand over a percentage of his purse to Whittaker .

Robert Whittaker fractured his hand against Yoel Romero at UFC 225. Esther Lin, MMA Fighting . “The Reaper”, who won a close split decision win in a five-round non- title bout Saturday night, fractured his right thumb early in the opening round, and his team released the X-ray on social media.

Whittaker's confidence is based on a trouble-free preparation, something which has been a rarity in recent times.

"The last few fights he's had he's had injuries and the lead-in time has been shorter, so the fight camps have been more intense," Whittaker's manager Titus Day told AAP.

"He's been in training right up till the last moment, whereas this time he's had more time.

"He was ready two or three weeks ago to fight."

During his preparations in Australia, South Sydney NRL fan Whittaker wrestled with Rabbitohs and NSW State of Origin hooker Damien Cook.

The connection is Whittaker's Jiu-Jitsu coach Alex Prates, who teaches wrestling to the Rabbitohs.

Whittaker’s team releases x-ray of broken thumb after UFC 225 .
Robert Whittaker fought for a long time with a broken thumb. Robert Whittaker didn’t just survive the punishing striking of Yoel Romero to come out of UFC 225 with a win. Robert Whittaker fought for a long time with a broken thumb.

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