It’s fight week and this time round, the UFC circus is headed to Paris for the first time with home country hero Ciryl Gane going head to head with Australia’s shoey master, Tai Tuivasa. An exciting main event with two future stars, who have already cemented themselves at the top of the division.
This fight will follow another battle between contenders. Rob Whittaker and Marvin Vettori will go head to head for the first time, in the middleweight division. These two have cemented themselves as the 2nd and 3rd best middleweights in the world behind Israel Adesanya and it’ll be fun to see them go at each other on Saturday night.
However, one thing struck me from this morning’s interviews: Rob said he was considering a move up to 205 as it would be “more of a natural weight” for him. This shocked me like it did for most MMA fans across the world. Bearing in mind, Rob was a welterweight at the start of his career and has struggled against big/long middleweights like Adesanya. I was surprised he’d want to move up to 205 where all his opposition is significantly bigger than him.
But after some thought, I see why Rob would want to do it. He’s lost to Adesanya twice and even if he wins this weekend against the next best guy in the division, he’s not guaranteed a title shot next. Even if Alex Pereira was to beat Izzy for the belt, Izzy will 100% get a rematch before anyone else gets a sniff at the belt. So it looks pretty bleak for the “Reaper” in his quest to get his title back. Also knowing, how much the weight cut to 170lbs killed him, Whittaker will surely never go down, so up is the only way for him to become a champion again.
It’s a tough predicament for Rob because, for his size, 185 is the perfect weight class for him. The gap between weight divisions has pretty much screwed him because I can’t see him beating any of the title contenders up at 205 simply due to size. I think skill for skill, he’s arguably better than all of them but there are weight classes for a reason.
I think this move all depends on Rob’s patience and the results to come. If Adesanya easily defeats Alex Pereira, then he could get a third shot, simply because there’s no one else that deserves a title shot in the division. Izzy would’ve beaten the top 6 guys in the division. Yet, due to this Izzy might move up again and wait for someone like Andre Muniz or Darren Till (lol) to rise through the ranks to be finally worthy of a title shot.
There’s not much Rob can do right now other than wait until UFC 281 and see how Adesanya vs Pereira plays out, or move up, try something new and see if you can outdo the bigger guys will superior talent.