Robert Whittaker and Darren Till have been on friendly terms in the leadup to their headlining middleweight bout at UFC on ESPN 14 this Saturday, with both men joking about their lackluster training regimen and junk food binges during lockdown.
Whittaker wants Till to know that he was only joking, however, as the former UFC middleweight champion has trained his ‘absolute ass off’ in preparation for Saturday night.
“I don’t trust him and he doesn’t trust me, as cordial as we’ve been—and it’s good to be like that because I think you should be cordial like that. I think you should set role models for other people—I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him,” Whittaker told reporters during the UFC on ESPN 14 pre-fight media scrum (h/t MMA Fighting’s Alexander K. Lee).
“After he said, ‘chips and dips’ I trained twice as hard. I hope he believes me, I hope he didn’t train, because I trained my absolute ass off and I’m going to come in there very, very good.”
Whittaker took an extended hiatus from the sport after suffering a mental burnout following his title defeat to Israel Adesanya at UFC 243 but ‘The Reaper’ is in good spirits ahead of UFC Fight Island 3, with communication being the new main priority at the gym.
“Honestly, just the open dialogue,” Whittaker said. “The open communication is just massive. Being able to tell them how I’m feeling and get feedback. Like, ‘I’m not feeling this session,’ or why I’m not feeling this session. Just to be able to talk like that is just massive. It’s done wonders for me.”
UFC on ESPN: Whittaker vs. Till takes place this Saturday, July 26, at the UFC Fight Island facility in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.