Whittaker to push pace in UFC title bout

Adrian Warren
Australian UFC star Robert Whittaker says he's in Career best shape ahead of his Yoel Romero bout

Supremely well prepared UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is planning to push the pace against veteran and old foe Yoel Romero, who is acutely aware of the storm heading his way.

Whittaker makes the first defence of his title on Sunday (AEST) against the Cuban he outpointed in Las Vegas last July, when he won the interim title on a points decision.

Fully fit after overcoming illness and injury for much of last year and early 2018, Whittaker said he was in his best ever shape.

"You're going to see a better Robert Whittaker," Sydneysider Whittaker told AAP in Chicago.

"I'm definitely going to go there and try and put it on him, push the pace a bit.

"Just force my game plan on him and see how he reacts to that."

Whittaker described the physically imposing Romero as an "absolute specimen of a human" and hoped age was catching up on the 41-year-old challenger,

Romero was confident of being able to go five five-minute rounds with 27-year-old Whittaker, declaring he was in shape to go ten.

He knows what's coming his way though.

Asked what he expected of Whittaker, Romero said "he's coming to attack."

He had no concerns about making the weight after failing to come in under the middleweight limit for his last fight when he stopped Luke Rockhold for the interim title, after stepping in as a replacement for Whittaker in Perth back in February.

Whittaker's confidence is based on a trouble-free preparation, something which has been a rarity in recent times.

"The last few fights he's had he's had injuries and the lead-in time has been shorter, so the fight camps have been more intense," Whittaker's manager Titus Day told AAP.

"He's been in training right up till the last moment, whereas this time he's had more time.

"He was ready two or three weeks ago to fight."

During his preparations in Australia, South Sydney NRL fan Whittaker wrestled with Rabbitohs and NSW State of Origin hooker Damien Cook.

The connection is Whittaker's Jiu-Jitsu coach Alex Prates, who teaches wrestling to the Rabbitohs.