Whittaker will compete at the promotion’s first event in France next weekend when he battles Marvin Vettori in a high-stakes 185-pound clash. With both men suffering two defeats to current middleweight king Israel Adesanya, Whittaker and Vettori will compete for relevancy in the title landscape, with the loser facing an even longer road back to a championship fight.
But even with a victory “The Reaper” could leave the weight class in pursuit of light heavyweight. During a recent interview with Submission Radio, Whittaker spoke about the potential of him moving up and how he’d prepare his body should he ultimately decide to do so.
“You gotta put on muscle, gotta train at that weight, gotta do all the bits and bobs then and there,” Whittaker said via MMA Weekly. “But I’ve been thinking about 205. I think it would be a more natural weight for me personally. But the height disadvantage and knowing, I don’t know if I want to deal with that. I don’t know,” added the former champion.
“I’m definitely thinking about going up to light heavyweight. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, just because I like the idea. I think it’s a more natural weight for me. But the thing is, I’d have to do it properly. Just like when I moved to 185, I developed a lot of muscle and everything, with zero intention of going back down to 170. That’s how I feel like it has to be. Because you see a lot of 185-ers go up, get starched, and then come back down.
“And I don’t wanna go up to 205 as a fat 185-er. But I’d have to deal with the height thing as well. Which is kind of annoying. The tall guys.”
Light Heavyweight Would Be Whittaker’s Third Division as a UFC Athlete
Adesanya is the only man Whittaker has lost to since moving from welterweight to middleweight in 2014. He’s 12-2 in the UFC division and boasts an overall professional mixed martial arts record of 23-6.
Whittaker won “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” 170-pound bracket to earn a UFC contract in 2012. He fought at welterweight four times inside the Octagon, going 2-2 before deciding to make the move up a weight class.
Jiri Prochazka Currently Rules the Division, Will Likely Rematch Glover Teixeira Next
Since Jon Jones vacated the light heavyweight strap in summer 2020, the belt has had three owners. Jan Blachowicz earned the vacant championship when he took out Dominick Reyes at UFC 263. He then notched one title defense by besting Adesanya at UFC 259 in March 2021 before dropping the belt to Glover Teixeira later that year at UFC 267.
Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka squared off at UFC 275 in June and “Denisa” became the undisputed king after catching Teixeira in a rear-naked choke at the end of the fifth round. It was one of the most thrilling 205-pound title tilts of all time, and UFC president Dana White recently confirmed that he is working to get an immediate rematch “done.”
Although he didn’t share a date for Prochazka vs. Teixeira 2, White said on August 20th at the UFC 278 post-fight press conference: “That’s a fight we want, a fight they want. I’m sure a fight the fans want, too. So, we’ll get it done.”