Robert Whittaker admits ‘Shock’ at booking Khamzat Chimaev fight at UFC Saudi Arabia: ‘It came out of nowhere’

Robert Whittaker admits shock at booking Khamzat Chimaev fight it came out of nowhere UFC Saudi Arabia

Slated to bring the Octagon to Saudi Arabia for the first time in it’s history, Robert Whittaker has claimed his UFC on ABC 6 clash with Khamzat Chimaev atop the ‘Fight Night’ billed card came as somewhat of a “shock” – and admits to being almost surprised at the booking.

Whittaker, the current number three ranked middleweight contender, most recently featured in the co-main event of UFC 298 back in February against former title challenger, Paulo Costa, turning in a hard-fought unanimous decision win.

Robert Whittaker closing as betting favorite to beat Paulo Costa at UFC 298

And the former champion – who had campaigned for a title rematch with former-foe, Dricus du Plessis in the aftermath of his victory over the Brazilian, has since booked a fight with Chimaev, despite admitting how a showdown with the Chechen would force him to fight down the rankings – ultimately something he reluctantly is doing.

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Robert Whittaker breaks down Khamzat Chimaev fight

Noting his interest in a title-eliminator against shunned ex-champion, Sean Strickland after his win over Costa, fan-favorite veteran, Whittaker admitted that his fight with surging finisher, Chimaev “came out of nowhere” for the UFC Saudi Arabia main event.

Manager confirms Khamzat Chimaev set for UFC return soon amid injury setback
Mandatory Credit: Zuffa LLC

“Obviously, it’s a bit of a shock because it comes out of nowhere,” Robert Whittaker said on the MMArcade podcast. “I would have assumed UFC was going to hold me in the ranks for the Australia card in August, which is kind of what I was preparing for. But, I’m happy UFC have given me this boon. This is my path to the title.”

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“This is the way I earn money for my kids,” Robert Whittaker explained. “To be able to do that so close – like I’ve said in other episodes, I want to increase my activity. God willing, and my body’s healthy, there’s no reason I shouldn’t take this fight. What else am I going to be doing?” 

Robert Whittaker confirms plans to fight at UFC 299 in March after call out from Paulo Costa
Mandatory Credit: Chris Unger – Zuffa LLC

In Chimaev’s most recent outing, the AllStars MMA staple turned in a close, debated decision victory against former undisputed welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman – in a short-notice UFC 294 co-headliner back in October.

Who wins at UFC Saudi Arabia in June: Robert Whittaker or Khamzat Chimaev?