‘Cocked and ready’ Robert Whittaker focused solely on Paulo Costa at UFC 298 – nothing else

IRVINE, Calif. – Ever since he lost the UFC middleweight championship back in 2019, Robert Whittaker has constantly talked about wanting to reclaim it.

Not this week.

With his UFC 298 (pay-per-view, ESPN, ESPN+) looming large, Whittaker has a singular focus heading into Saturday night’s co-main event showdown against Paulo Costa at Honda Center in Anaheim.

“I want to beat Costa,” Whittaker said when asked about his aspirations for 2024 during UFC 298 media day on Wednesday. “That’s on the to-do list right now, and that’s as far as my calendar goes.”

That’s probably a wise approach as Whittaker prepares for his first fight of the year looking to rebound from a disappointing second-round TKO loss to Dricus Du Plessis last July. The victory launched Du Plessis into a 185-pound title shot as he won the belt from Sean Strickland last month at UFC 297.

“Dricus is a sore spot for me, because I didn’t turn up,” Whittaker said. “I didn’t perform.”

The reason for that, Whittaker said, at least was in part because of “things that were sub-optimal in the last camp.” While he didn’t elaborate on what those were, he said he and his team have adjusted accordingly.

Whittaker (24-7 MMA, 15-5 UFC) expects those adjustments to pay dividends against Costa (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), whom he’s excited to face given his standing as a perennial top-end fighter for several years.

“He’s a great fighter. He’s been in the conversation of the top 10 forever,” Whittaker said. “He’s a good fighter. He’s a power puncher, he pushes forward, and he likes to control and dictate the fight in that way. But I don’t think he’s encountered anybody like me. I don’t think anyone has until they come up against me.

“I’ve done everything. I’ve ticked every box, I’ve crossed every ‘t,’ I’ve dotted every ‘i’ in the last few months, so I’m going into this fight cocked and ready.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 298.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie