Robert Whittaker plans to shake Khamzat Chimaev’s ‘undoubted confidence’ at UFC Saudi Arabia

Robert Whittaker aims to put Khamzat Chimaev in unchartered waters.

Whittaker (25-7 MMA, 16-5 UFC) faces Chimaev (13-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) in a five-round UFC main event June 22 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which airs on ABC. The former middleweight champion likes the challenge of facing unbeaten Chimaev, a matchup that not too many people are clamoring for.

“It’s perfect for me to be able to get another one in,” Whittaker said on the “MIGHTYcast” podcast. “Then you put the fact that it’s against Chimaev who, you know, he’s got a lot of hype and stuff. It’s going to bring a lot of eyes. He is the boogeyman in the division at the moment.

“Nobody wants to fight him. No one wants to have a go with him. So, I get to have that run at him, which will be fun. I think that they’re the fights that excite me because they’re the tests. They’re the type of fights I get a lot of honor and pride out of.”

Whittaker, who’s coming off a win over Paulo Costa at UFC 298, thinks Chimaev will have a hard time getting him down to the mat. He expects to get the better of him on the feet, too.

“I’d like to think that I’m going to go in there with a speed advantage and a striking advantage,” Whittaker said. “I’m going in there thinking that his – I think one of his greatest strengths is the fact that he can force the wrestling on people. 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 to be a hard fight. I’m going 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.”

Chimaev has been on a tear in the UFC but was pushed in two of his recent fights against Gilbert Burns and Kamaru Usman. Although he outlasted both, Whittaker thinks he can test Chimaev over five rounds.

“I think ‘impress’ is the wrong word,” Whittaker said on Chimaev. “I think he’s a good fighter, and I think he’s got a great head space for the craft. He knows what he does well, and he goes out there with undoubted confidence in what he can do.

“That makes a very dangerous recipe, but also it’s something that, if it gets shaken, then you don’t know which way the cards are going to fall. So, I’m looking forward to testing that, to see how big the hype is.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie