Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has given thought to making the move up to the light heavyweight division.
It wouldn’t be the first weight class change for Whittaker (23-6 MMA, 14-4 UFC), who entered the UFC as a welterweight after “The Ultimate Fighter: Australia vs. U.K.,” in 2012. Whittaker’s first five fights with the promotion were at 170 pounds, and he won three of those bouts. He then moved up to the middleweight division in 2014, and won eight straight en route to the title.
With the current state of the division in a bit of flux as current champion Israel Adesanya is lapping the division and holds two title wins over him, Whittaker has been entertaining the idea of another move.
“I’ve been thinking about 205 a fair bit,” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “The problem is, I wouldn’t go to 205 to come back down to 185. Just because I don’t want to go to 205 as a fat 185, right? You see a lot of guys try that and they just get starched. And then they come back down. It doesn’t make sense.”
The move to the middleweight division proved to be a smart move for Whittaker. Fighting closer to his natural weight and training the proper way to ensure success led him to claim the title. He knew then that a move up meant there would be no going back down.
“So when I moved up to 185 the first time, there was no way, like I would never go back down to 170,” Whittaker said. “Could never. Got to put on muscle, you have to train at that weight. Got to do all of the bits and bobs then and there. … I think it will be a more natural weight for me, personally, but the height disadvantage is annoying. I don’t know if I would want to deal with that.”
Whittaker’s two-time rival Adesanya attempted the move in 2021 to challenge for his second title, but was turned away by now-former champion Jan Blachowicz. Adesanya then returned to middleweight.
Just like when he moved from 170 pounds to 185, Whittaker knows the move will have to be a permanent one due to all of the changes he would have to make in preparation. At 31, the former champ isn’t ready to say he’s going to do it for certain, but if he does, he will say goodbye to middleweight forever.
“Once I make the decision to go up to 205, I’m there. That’ll be my division. I’d finish my career there, for better or worse. I’m doing really well at 185. … I’m definitely one of the most dangerous guys in the division.”
Whittaker returns to action at UFC Fight Night 209 to face Marvin Vettori in the co-main feature. The event takes place Saturday at Accor Arena in Paris. The card streams on ESPN+.