Aussie and No.1 contender Robert Whittaker returned to the octagon for the first time since losing the middleweight belt to Israel Adesanya and proved why he should be next in line for a shot.
Whittaker, the former middleweight champion faced Darren Till in an important middleweight bout in the finale on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
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Whittaker returned against Darren Till in the co-main event against Darren Till and was dropped in the first round after a brutal elbow to the face.
But the Aussie jumped straight back up and upped his pressure and racked up the points in a technical fight.
Till cut Whittaker behind the ear in the last round, with blood pouring down his body, but it wasn’t enough after the Aussie took it 48-47.
Fans couldn’t get enough of the back-and-forth battle and how well Whittaker returned after a lengthy lay-off.
Official: Robert Whittaker def. Darren Till via UD (48-47 X 3).— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) July 26, 2020
Whittaker’s first win since June 2018. Massive showing by the former champ.
Jack Hermansson next?
Robert Whittaker has lethal intentions when he throws.— Sealey (@IsaacSealey52) July 26, 2020
Robert Whittaker was absolutely excellent tonight, adapted brilliantly throughout and didn’t bite Darren’s feints— Martial Law MMA (@MartialLawMMA) July 26, 2020
Any worries about his durability can be dismissed, (aside from one elbow) he ate clean strikes from a big puncher and didn’t seem phased
If you don’t like Robert Whittaker you have a major issue m. He’s so nice 😂 #UFCFightIsland3— Tatiana Suarez (@tatianaufc) July 26, 2020
Bobby Knuckles aka Robert Whittaker is a killer! But, Jared Cannonier is getting he next title shot if Izzy beats Costa #UFCFightIsland3— Jason J (@JasonJohnHTTR) July 26, 2020
Great win for Whitaker! Hell of a fight. Man Till is so damn good. I could watch these two fight forever! 🇦🇺🇦🇺 #UFCFightIsland3— Marshall D. Teach (@AdmiralMDTeach) July 26, 2020
Whittaker admits he needed rest
Whittaker recently admitted he needed a break after the Adesanya fight.
“You just get to a point where you aren’t able to do it anymore,” Whittaker said.
“I was working all the time, away from my family so much. It was just push, push, push, push. Before I took the break, it was definitely like a slog.
“It was so difficult. I was dragging my feet in everything I did. I got to where I just couldn’t go on.”
Following the fight, Whittaker said his approach to MMA has changed and he is enjoying the sport again.
“I am enjoying it again, just that step away from the gyms, it was beautiful for my mental state,” he added.