Australian fighter Robert Whittaker is blowing hot ahead of his rematch with Nigeria-New Zealand mixed martial art ace Israel Adesanya.
Whittaker insists that he is now a “different man” from the one who lost to Israel Adesanya in 2019.
He has the chance to retaliate at UFC 271 on Feb. 12 and enjoys the underdog tag, admitting it takes some of the pressure off his shoulders.
He told Unibet Australia: ‘I’m the underdog, (it) makes sense, you know. He already beat me once. He is the current champion.
“He’s by the high horse and he hit me the first time. It certainly takes some of the pressure off because you’re the underdog.
“Nobody expects me to win. No one expects me to go there to dethrone him after he’s already defeated me. Throughout my career I have enjoyed being the underdog.
“I love coming in there and braving the odds. I like going in there and proving people wrong. It just gives me that little bit extra.’
Whittaker reigned supreme as the middleweight champion before being unceremoniously dethroned three years ago by Adesanya in front of a packed Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.
Since then, he has won all three of his fights by unanimous decision, earning a rematch with “Stylebender,” who remains undefeated in the weight class. He feels he has developed his game to avoid the same result as last time.
Whittaker added: “As a fighter I’ve changed a lot, you can see I’m trying to incorporate new angles into my game, use a more complete skill set.
“The most important thing is that I am not the same outside the octagon as I was then. I have much more control over who I am, why I do things, why I train, why I want to win.
“The most important thing is just winning, whether it’s for a belt or not, it’s about winning. I think the road to victory is to go in and use my full skills, punching, boxing, knocking him down, making him uncomfortable, I’m a BJJ black belt, I work on wrestling five days a week.
“I definitely think if I can get him on his back, I can make him uncomfortable.
“Regardless of the outcome, I’ll leave happy, I’ll be happy because I go in there as I do, to fight as I do.”