Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has firmly established himself as the dominant force of the division following his two recent victories over the dangerous Cuban, Yoel Romero. So the question now arises, what is next for the New Zealander?
Whittaker’s record currently stands at 21-4-0 in which he has put in three Performances of the Night as well as four Fights of the Night within his UFC career. He is a very unorthodox fighter, who is renowned for his top level striking game, which is why he is one of the most dangerous fighters on the roster. At just 27 years of age, he still has many years ahead of him if he wishes to remain active. The next step could possibly be to face off against the winner of the forthcoming match between Rockhold and Weidman. The pair are set to face off as the co-main event of UFC 230. But what are the credentials of these fighters and could they provide a serious challenge to the current champion?
At one time Rockhold looked to be the next star who could dominate his division for years. However, following his shock defeat to bitter rival Michael Bisping, his career has remained stagnant. Prior to this, he had defeated Weidman to gain the title at UFC 194 in the Fight of the Night in which he put in a stunning performance to shock the defending champion. Rockhold has been defeated again, by the seasoned Yoel Romero, via a devastating third round knockout, so is now on a recovery mission with moving up a weight a likely next step.
Rockhold has always been extremely confident of his own abilities which has looked like near arrogance at times, which is why many fans have enjoyed his downfall. There is, however, no doubting the 33 year old’s ability. He has a solid overall game with high level kickboxing, jiu jitsu and wrestling. His record now stands at 16-4-0 with his key performance coming over his next opponent Weidman. If he can bring his A game to the match then he would have a good chance of defeating Whittaker were they to meet in the Octagon. Another anticipated bout is between Rockhold’s training partner Khabib and Conor McGregor which is set to headline UFC 229. The odds for this contest can be found at https://www.betfair.com/sport/mixed-martial-arts/event?eventId=28831591.
Chris Weidman is another fighter who is looking to return to the top. He won the title back at UFC 162 following a Knockout of the Night victory over the legendary Anderson Silva. He followed this with three title defences that included victories over Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort. In the process he posted a Performance of the Night and a Fight of the Night. He was quickly becoming one of the most destructive champions in the UFC.
The 34 year old’s record now stands at 14-3-0 and he is currently ranked as number three in the division. He is known as ‘the All American’ due to his high level wrestling game that has been a key catalyst in him reaching the top of the sport. He will be looking to avenge that defeat to Rockhold in their forthcoming rematch. The key victories in his career have been against Brazilian legend Anderson Silva. His wrestling style could provide a major threat to Whittaker if they were to face off in the Octagon in the future.