UFC star Whittaker hungry after burnout

Adrian Warren
Australian UFC star Robert Whittaker is ready to punch on after taking a break

Former UFC middleweight world champion Rob Whittaker is back from burnout and has rediscovered his hunger, but may have to wait a while before achieving his aim of fighting in Europe.

The 29-year-old Sydneysider took a break for several weeks at the start of the year.

"It was probably the smartest decision I've ever made in terms of my career," No.1 ranked contender Whittaker told AAP.

"I didn't want to go to training, I didn't want to work, I was mentally burnt out and I needed some holiday leave.

"I came to the conclusion that I love fighting. I wanted to continue.

"After a few weeks of not training, not doing anything, just relaxing and spending time with my family, I got so hungry to get to work."

Whittaker lost his middleweight crown to New Zealand's Israel Adesanya last October in front of a UFC world record attendance of 57,127 at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium last October.

It ended a streak of nine straight wins and was his first defeat in almost five years.

"The last few years have been crazy," Whittaker said.

"My life has undergone so many changes in and outside the octagon.

"I hadn't given myself time to process. It was well overdue.

"I was training the same way I was when I was 23.

"I'm 29, you can't keep doing the same things and expecting to pick up results, so we as a team put our heads together and we just made some changes."

The loss to Adesanya capped off a tumultuous period of just over two years, starting from when he won the interim title in the first of two epic battles with Cuban veteran Yoel Romero.

Injuries and illness forced him out of Australian shows in Perth and Melbourne, with Whittaker forced to withdraw on the day of the latter promotion as he needed surgery.

Through those tough times, UFC boss Dana White has been unwavering in his support of the Australian.

"To have the support and backing of your boss is certainly a strong thing to have and it's just made life a hell of a lot easier,'' Whittaker admitted.

White is intent on establishing a "Fight Island" at a location yet to be revealed, where he can use non-American fighters on the UFC roster.

Whittaker would have no qualms about fighting at such a location.

"Of course, I'd fight on the moon if I had to," Whittaker said.

Whittaker is keen for his next bout to be against fifth-ranked Darren Till - the Englishman he was rumoured to be fighting in Ireland in August before the coronavirus pandemic laid waste to the sporting calendar.

"I really wanted to fight Darren Till because I really want to go to Europe. I don't know if I will be able to do that now with the world in lockdown," Whittaker said.

"But that fight is still there for me.

"Me and he are both keen to punch on so let's see if we can make it happen."