Robert Whittaker's Cool Interaction With Khabib Nurmagomedov At UFC 254
| Last updated
For some reason, it's not often that you see UFC fighters at the top of their game heap praise on each other.
Whether it's the guarded air of superiority they display around their colleagues or the possibility of meeting inside the octagon someday, they just don't seem to dish out many compliments.
But Australian mixed martial artist Robert Whittaker has never shied away from acknowledging just how great his fellow fighters are - including undefeated lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
And the pair's interaction prior to UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi proves just how much respect exists between them.
With UFC 254 taking place on Fight Island in a safeguarded coronavirus zone, the scenario definitely didn't play into the fighters' hands as they prepared for their bouts.
Not only had they flown around 18 hours from Las Vegas, but when they did finally touch down in Abu Dhabi they were met with insane 40-degree temperatures.
For a fighter cutting weight and losing sleep to adjust to the local time, this definitely wasn't ideal.
So, naturally, you can imagine they weren't exactly the most energetic and lively while juggling their media obligations with training sessions.
But that wasn't the case for Whittaker and Khabib.
On a chance encounter while strutting around their plush hotel, the two fighters bumped into each other in the hallway and their interaction made for interesting viewing.
"What's up brother? How are you? How's everything?" Khabib asked on the UFC Embedded video posted on YouTube.
Whittaker replied: "Good to see you."
The two smiled at each other and embraced before eventually parting ways.
Reflecting on the incident just moments after, Whittaker hilariously said: "That dude has got a serious mask, it makes my mask look like s***."
It's a stark contrast from other interactions between fighters we've seen down the years - fan favourite Conor McGregor has had his fair share of hotel lobby run-ins.
And while this quick chat between Khabib and Whittaker was nothing flashy, it just goes to show how much the current and former champions respect each other as athletes.
Not long after UFC 254, where Whittaker demolished Jared Cannonier and Khabib chocked Justin Gaethje unconscious, the Aussie came out and publicly praised that same bloke he'd bumped into in the hotel hallway two weeks earlier.
Talking to ESPN's Ariel Helwani about Khabib's win over Gaethje, Whittaker said: "He's just a freak, isn't he? Good gosh, he is so good.
"He made one of the best dudes in the world look not like one of the best dudes in the world.
"It's phenomenal. I'll tell you right now, I wouldn't want to take a fight with him. I'm much bigger than he is... he's a scary dude."
Former middleweight champion Whittaker was equally as impressed by the Russian wrestler when he spoke to Submission Radio too.
"It is amazing to have that sort of level of anything in the game. Because there has been good and very high-level guys in the game across the history.
"There's been a lot of high-level guys with those sort of skillsets, where people know what to do, and then they start to work them out and they start to counter them, and then you see everyone switch onto it and the guy can't quite get to his game plan anymore. Not with Khabib. Khabib does it. He makes it work no matter what. And that is amazing. Amazing. Especially at the level that he's at.
"I don't see him losing. I don't see him losing ever."
Featured Image Credit: UFC Embedded (YouTube)
Topics: Khabib Nurmagomedov, Fight Island, Aussie, Robert Whittaker, UFC News, MMA News, Abu Dhabi, Lightweight champion, UFC, Australia, MMA