Skip to main content

Former UFC champion Robert Whittaker says he will be the first true test of Khamzat Chimaev’s middleweight credentials in Saudi Arabia later this year.

The two fighters will square off in the UFC’s Saudi Arabia debut on June 22 and speaking to Demetrious Johnson on the his podcast, Whittaker said that he has the required tools to fully appraise if Chimaev’s in-cage credentials match the hype that has accompanied the Chechen fighter since his debut with the organisation in the summer of 2020.

“I think impressed is the wrong word,” he said of his upcoming opponent, as noted by MMA Fighting. “I think he’s a good fighter, and I think he’s got a great headspace for the craft, and he knows what he does well, and he goes out there with undoubted confidence in what he can do. And that makes a very dangerous recipe.”

His strategy, though, will be to raise the temperature in the cage and see if Chimaev can keep pace.

“But it also something that, if it gets shaken, then you don’t know which way the cards are gonna fall. So I’m looking forward to testing that, to see how big the hype is.

“I’d like to think that I’m going to go in there with a speed advantage and a striking advantage,” Whittaker continued. “One of his greatest strengths is the fact that he can force the wrestling on people, and I think it’s going to be a little harder to force the wrestling on me, just because of my distance, because of my control of spacing.

“I’m really looking forward to this fight. I think it’s going be a hard fight. I want to take that same mentality into this fight, and look to take him to war, and just earn this win. I’m going to earn this win, and this puts me in perfect direction for a title shot and condition for a title shot, which has always been the goal.”