Robert Whittaker takes pride in being the Aussie MMA veteran, but doesn't want to be known as the 'old dog'
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It seems only yesterday Robert Whittaker was the Aussie newcomer on UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter.
Now, almost a decade later, he’s solidified his position as longest tenured UFC fighter from Australia and New Zealand.
At only 31 years of age, you wouldn’t consider Whittaker to be an ‘old dog’ from Australia, however, he’s certainly done more than enough to solidify himself as a veteran of the game.
He told SPORTbible Australia and reporters: “It is a weird concept for me to get around that I am the old dog now.
“And I do believe the best is still to come and I’m only just now hitting my stride.”
The former middleweight champion has put the Australian MMA scene on his back and carried it with him on his journey to the top of the UFC mountain.
He’s seen the sport grow leaps and bounds Down Under, and has been a pioneer for the past decade.
He continued: “It’s a pride that I hold that I’ve had a hand in bringing a spotlight to the sport in Australia.
“When I started the sport, there was nothing like this.
“The sport wasn’t as big, or well known, and we didn’t have the support for the athletes to help it grow faster than it could have.
“For the UFC to have done what it has done here in Australia and add support across the board and give avenues for careers to the athletes, to a point where we’re doing a PPV card in Perth, and from top to bottom is just Australian fighters, it is absolutely unbelievable and I’m very proud of that.”
As for the ‘old dog’ tag, he’s not the biggest fan. Although, it does come with some perks.
He added: “I get in the showers first - we have a gym rule that goes oldest to youngest.
“But it (the tag) doesn’t really do much for me.”
“But I do hold the title of the oldest ANZ fighter tenure proudly.”
Whittaker will be taking on Brazilian Paulo Costa at UFC Perth in what will be his sixth major UFC event to be held in Australia.
And while he admits he loves the cheers that come with being in front of his home nation, it always comes with a bombardment of requests.
He said: “I’ve got more friends and family hitting me up like, ‘Hey bro can you get me tickets?’
“Let me just squash that, no, no I can’t get anybody tickets.”
Whittaker takes on Paulo Costa at UFC 284 on February 12, 2023.