While the anxiety built up for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White awaiting Georges St-Pierre’s next move, the same could be said for Robert Whittaker.
“The Reaper” had to sit idly by to see if “Rush” would indeed defend his title against him, or if he’d have to start training for someone else. But after “Rush” bowed out and vacated his strap, Robert -- who is now the official champion — is glad to have a goal in site, which is to defend his 185-pound strap against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 on Feb. 10, 2018 in Perth, Australia.
He said as much during a recent press conference (via MMA Junkie):
“With the UFC, anything can happen, really. There was no clear-cut matchup for me at any point in the last six months. So I’m just happy to have closure. I’m just happy to know Georges has stepped down, I’ve taken the title, and I’m going to defend it come February against Luke. So yeah, it’s just good to know what we’re doing. I’m a very objective-driven bloke, so to have a goal in mind and to have something to do is very important to me.”
Whittaker won the interim title earlier this year after defeating Yoel Romero at UFC 213. After an injury sidelined him for the rest of the year, Robert had to wait and see how the division played out, which ultimately saw Michael Bisping cough up his title to St-Pierre at UFC 217.
Winner of eight straight, “The Reaper” will look to collect his first-ever title defense against a former champion who has been on a mission to get his hardware back after getting knocked out by “The Count” over a year ago. As for St-Pierre, it seems his much-anticipated return to mixed martial arts (MMA) was just a one-and-done deal.