Robert Whittaker is expecting an ‘absolute war’ when he meets Kelvin Gastelum this weekend in the main event of UFC Vegas 24.
The former middleweight champion Whittaker is searching for his third consecutive win against Gastelum on April 17th. ‘The Reaper’ won decisions in 2020 against fellow top 185-pound contenders Jared Cannonier and Darren Till.
“I’m hoping I can go out and dominate him, but I’m expecting an absolute war,” Whittaker told MMA Junkie. “We’re both very well-rounded. He’s got dangerous power. He can wrestle, grapple. He’s tough as nails. I can do the same. Yeah, I expect the worst, hope for the best.”
Whittaker and Gastelum were first scheduled to fight at UFC 234 in 2019, but Whittaker was forced to undergo emergency surgery on the day of the event and the fight was cancelled. Whittaker explained his growth as a fighter since that booking.
“The real thing is I’m a very different beast than I was back then,” Whittaker said. “I feel like from a technical point of view, I’m a much more complete athlete – but as well as the mental game, which only reinforces all of that. It’s just never been better.”
The division’s current champion Israel Adesanya is set to move back down to 185-pounds after a failed bid at the light heavyweight title, losing out to Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259. Whittaker touched on whether he would call for a title fight with a win over Gastelum.
“Who knows? Maybe I’ll surprise everybody,” Whittaker said. “We’ll wait and see. My calendar and scheduling only goes up until Saturday because it’s going to be a hard fight. I can’t look past him.”