With his left hand sitting low, TUF The Smashes welterweight champion Robert Whittaker was able to overcome Colton Smith, winning via TKO stoppage in round three at UFC 160.
“I'm absolutely stoked,” Whittaker said post-fight. “It was a great debut into this sport against a wrestler and I couldn't be more happier.”
It looked like Whittaker was trying to emulate world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather by keeping his left hand low, but he revealed after the fight that it was a tactic that he and his coaches at the Tristar Gym came up with to overcome Smith's wrestling.
“It made me nervous,” Whittaker joked. “It was all a part of a strategy because everyone that has seen Colton Smith fight knows he goes for that single, and having that left hand on my leg ensures that if I'm caught unaware, I've got an under-hook instantly, plus it's daunting.
“It was almost suicide. I wouldn't have done it if I was up against a purebred striker, but it was a strategy for us at Tristar that my coach agreed with.”
Smith, 25, progressed through the TUF 16 series using his wrestling, but it was ineffective against Whittaker, who wasn't surprised that Smith instead had to attempt to stand and trade with him.
“Once the takedown was stopped the first few times and the fact that I wasn't going straight back being pressured up against the cage and I was circling out and keeping him at distance, he was hesitant. I forced my will on him.”
For Whittaker, the win gives him the unofficial label of TUF champion. Smith won the TUF series in the U.S. (TUF 16) that ran at the same time the Australian was crowned the TUF Smashes champion.
(Follow @AndrewPMMA on Twitter)