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Robert Whittaker teases jump to 205, eyes summer UFC return against Marvin Vettori

Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was unsuccessful in his bid to recapture the crown from reigning 185-pound titleholder Israel Adesanya in the UFC 271 pay-per-view (PPV) main event earlier this month in Houston, but believes a couple of high-profile victories over his fellow top contenders will lead to an inevitable third fight against “The Last Stylebender.”

That journey starts with No. 3-ranked Marvin Vettori.

“I think [Adesanya] fights [Jared] Cannonier next, and then I think I fight someone in the division,” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “I don’t know how many people are left. Probably Vettori? Yeah, he would have to be the highest ranked next up, I believe. I’m looking forward to [fighting again soon]. I’m going to enjoy my little break now and then get back in the gym, probably look for like a July, August sort of return. I think that will be good, because then I can get a third one in at the end of the year. So, I think that’s good timing for me. But, yeah, that’s very rough, very rough.”

Whittaker (23-6) already holds victories over No. 2-ranked Jared Cannonier, as well as No. 4-ranked Derek Brunson. Outside of Vettori, other potential Top 5 opponents include Paulo Costa and Sean Strickland. In addition, “The Reaper” has not ruled out a jump to light heavyweight, though it sounds like that move would be temporary, or perhaps something for the twilight of his combat sports career.

“Yeah, I can definitely see myself fighting at 205. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, because I have to cut to middleweight and cutting sucks,” Whittaker continued. “So, I think it might be fun. Obviously, I do understand the gravity of going up to 205. The bigger guys, the taller guys, longer reach, heavier-set guys, more power. But I think stylistically I have the style to move up to a heavier power division. But honestly, I’ll take it as it comes. It might be something fun to move up and have a dabble at, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Whittaker, 31, started his UFC career in the 170-pound division.