Robert Whittaker is a former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion and still a formidable force in the 185-pound division. So formidable that few gave upstart challenger, Dricus Du Plessis, much of a chance to beat him. Indeed, the odds were heavily stacked in “The Reaper’s” favor — he was a -385 favorite to beat the South African at UFC 290 this past weekend (Sat., July 8, 2023) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
After a strong start from Whittaker, Du Plessis quickly took over the fight. In the second round, he knocked out the New Zealand native, earning himself a $50,000 performance bonus in the process (watch highlights here).
We hadn’t heard anything from “The Reaper” following that stunning loss, but now the Australian national has released a video on social media sharing his thoughts on the defeat.
“G’day everybody, this is just an update,” Whittaker said. “I’m home now with my family, and I’m healthy. I just wanna say firstly, big thank you to all my friends and family and to everybody that messaged me or left a comment on one of the many videos going around, showing their love and support. I really do feel it and I appreciate it and I wouldn’t be in it without you guys.
“Secondly, I wanna say a huge thank you to all my team and my coaches. Day in, day out, they’re in there helping me get to the fight, helping me prepare for the fight, helping me get through day to day battles as well. They’re my second family. And thank you to my sponsors. Obviously there was a big lag between fights and it was my sponsors who carried me, so thank you to you guys.
“And lastly, I want to say thank you — not thank you, congratulations to Dricus,” Whittaker concluded. “He showed up to fight and I didn’t. That’s the nature of the beast: you can’t have a day off. It is what it is. But, I will say I do believe that challenges, hardships, and obstacles that get presented to you that you overcome make you stronger, build character, make you a better man, and, by fact, a better athlete. And I will come back stronger for this. I’ll come back hopefully by the end of the year. I want to get in the Octagon by the end of the year. To get in there and close the year on a win, and bring back ‘The Reaper’ you guys all know.
“That’s me,” Whittaker concluded. “I’m going to enjoy a couple weeks now with my family resting and re-calibrating, recharging the batteries. And then I’ll get back in the gym, get back to work and come back better than ever.”
UFC 290 marked Whittaker’s first fight in 2023 following a solid decision win over Marvin Vettori back in Sept. 2022. Hopefully, “The Reaper” manages to get on a card before the end of the year so this isn’t his only outing.
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