Jul 25, 2020
UFC Fight Island 3 Press Conference Transcript: Whittaker vs. Till
UFC fighters Rob Whittaker & Darren Till took part in a post-fight press conference after UFC Fight Island 3. Read the full press conference transcript here.
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Shogun Rua: (00:07)
[foreign language 00:00:09] Hi guys.
Well, Shogun, certainly you guys had a history of great fights, but did you think that he had another great battle like that in him ready to go?
Shogun Rua: (00:34)
Yes, I come in here for fight, and one more war, Nogueira Lil, because I know he’s very top guy, very top fighter and your game is very aggressive fight, is box and my game is Muay Thai. Every fights is war Lil Nogueira.
We can see the damage, obviously. I mean, how hurt were you? He landed some very solid shots it seemed.
Shogun Rua: (01:10)
Yes. He’s very strong. He punch very strong in my face, but-
He’s a very strong fighter. Very tough fighter. He landed some good blows. It was hard, but thankfully I was able to withstand the punches, the pressure. And also I made a mistake of blowing my nose in between rounds and then my eye got swollen.
As far as the score goes, how did you and your team have it? Did you think you had done enough or were you worried that you might come up short?
Shogun Rua: (02:02)
Yes, my coach, the final the first round, my coach say, “You win, but maybe Nogueira win. But Eduardo [inaudible 00:02:16] say for me, “I win.” I win.
Fair enough. It looks like this may be his last fight. If that was his last fight, how special is it for you to be a part of that legacy?
Shogun Rua: (02:37)
I’m a very happy for finishing career in Nogueira in here for your final fight. I’m very happy and he’s very top guy and very top fighter. I respect him and I’m very for this moment in Nogueira, in your life.
Last thing for me, you said you just got a couple left. So what do you think? What makes sense? Are there names, are there a number of fights? What do you see as the plan?
Shogun Rua: (03:17)
I back in Brazil now for my family, I miss my family. I relax and I touch my manager Eduardo for my next step.
Speaker 1: (03:28)
Shogun, did it cross your mind to think that this could also be your last fight? Or is that an option that you don’t consider it?
Shogun Rua: (03:49)
No, I wanted two or one more fight and yesterday, two or more three, now. I think two more fights and I finish.
Speaker 1: (04:01)
Do we have someone in mind that you would like to be your next fight?
Shogun Rua: (04:05)
No, I don’t have idea. I back in Brazil now, and I don’t want thinking in fight now. I want to relax and relax with my family, my friends my team and in one week I touch Eduardo, my manager, for next step.
Speaker 1: (04:23)
I know you just said that you don’t want to think about it, but Paul Craig was here a few minutes ago, when he said he still wants the rematch. Is that an option you would like to face next?
Shogun Rua: (04:33)
Yes, this is an opportunity, I want this fight, sure. I take this fight one more time.
Speaker 1: (04:43)
You had three wars with Lil Nog, which one do you think was the best one?
Shogun Rua: (04:47)
The first, because my opinion, the first time Nogueira is the top five, the best for all time.
Speaker 1: (05:00)
Final one, what still drives you to continue fighting?
Shogun Rua: (05:08)
My first, my family is motivation for me, in my first, because I have many firsts, because I fight a long time. My first for me is more full for continuation in the fight.
Question was, how does he feel about winning three times against such a tough opponent? His answer is that, well, he was very happy because he respects Lil Nog a lot, he’s a legend and he accepted the fight. A lot of people ask him, “Why would you accept the fight against the guy that you already won twice?” And he said that, “I accepted the fight because I knew this would be important for my legacy, if I was able to win. Would be another huge step in my career.” And I’m very happy, thank God that everything came out well, and I got a win.
Question is, I asked Lil Nog about what’s the difference between tonight’s Lil Nog’s and the other fights, Lil Nog and said that he thought he had a heavier hand now, a harder punch and she wants to know if Shogun agrees.
Shogun says that, well, actually I felt his punches in all of our fights, so I guess he always hits hard and always hit hard. Thank God this time I didn’t get a knockdown, I just felt bunches sometimes and got dizzy and was able to recover and… Well, it was a long answer, but basically-
Shogun Rua: (08:12)
But basically what he said-
Shogun Rua: (08:15)
Many, many punches.
Now, I remember, he said, he was very curious to see how the fight would unfold. Himself, he was curious, because they had fought already 35 minutes before, 20 minutes in pride in 15 minutes in the UFC, and so they know each other very well. I might add that they also did a training camp for a fight that didn’t happen back in 2013 that got canceled two weeks out. So they know each other better than any fighters. Right? He was curious, knowing that Lil Nog coming in having fought him for 35 minutes and having lost two times, what changes would he made? What little tweaks and how would it unfold, but thank God everything worked out well and he is very happy that he got the win.
Last question for me, coming to your last fight, when you decide to hang up your gloves, when and where in an ideal scenario would you like to have the fight? Well, to be honest with you, I really don’t know. I’m not thinking about fights. I want to go home, like I said, and relax with my family. So it’s too early to think about that kind of thing. To be honest with you, and also very sincere, I really want and hope to have a job with the UFC later on when I retire, as an ambassador of the sport and continue to do what I love, which is be involved with fighting and the UFC.
[Marisso 00:10:24] would like you to evaluate your performance based on what your train. You already fought a Lil Nog twice, so everything unfolded the way you thought or how do you evaluate your performance?
Well, yeah, he’s surprised me a bit. Like I said, we have fought a lot already, so he knows me very well and now I can talk about it. I know he is always looking for me to come in, so he can evade and pull out of my punches and respond with his left hand and connect like that. So I already trained for that. I knew he would be looking to do that, but I also knew that he would be adapting and improving his take down defense, because in our last fight, I stole rounds with take downs and all that. So I tried to vary my take downs and change things, mix up a little bit. So we worked on that to be able to surprise him. He was good. He surprised me in some things, but thank God, I’m very happy that we were able to do the adjustments and make it work and get the decision.
Knowing that Lil Nog is a very important character in your story. If somebody who’s not from the fight world comes to you and ask who is Rogério Lil Nog, what would be your answer? Well, we fought in the beginning of our careers, early in our careers. Then we fought in the middle of our careers, and now late stages of our careers. So I really have the biggest respect for Lil Nog. I also am very fond, I have a lot of fondness for both the Nogueira brothers, Big Nog and Lil Nog, they’re great people, even though we don’t see each other often or anything like that, but I really respected and liked them a lot. If somebody comes to me and ask, “Who was Lil Nog?” I would say, “He’s a legend of the sport, a great guy, a great fighter, and was a great rival to me.”
Knowing that this was his last fight in MMA, would you have any message for him?
Shogun Rua: (14:03)
His last fight in MMA. Would you have any message for him?
Yes, I do. As a matter of fact, I told him right there in the octagon, after the fight, I congratulated him and I wish him the best of luck. He is now going into a corporate speech and lecturing business where he is doing a lot of good work already. And I told him that I know he’s going to succeed on that and be very successful with that because he’s a great guy. He’s a great professional. He does well in everything he does. And I can only thank him and I’ll be hoping for the best for him.
Speaker 3: (15:10)
Finish. Guys, thank you very much.
[inaudible 00:16:50] I know it’s still pretty fresh right now and didn’t get the result you want, but obviously a phenomenal fight. So what’s the emotion like for you right now?
Darren Till: (16:55)
Hey, you know what, I’ve never felt like this after a loss, I just, I feel okay. It was just tough. It’s probably one of the toughest fights I’ve been in. It was just so mentally stressful. Such a chess match. Neither guy wants to throw and every time we threw, we threw to knock out. I think I caught him more than he caught me with the power, about three or four times that we had gone, first round especially.
Darren Till: (17:22)
But, I think it was probably about two, two going into the fifth. Then I think maybe the judges made the score, the take down, but I was getting back up after every time. So maybe that nullified it, I don’t know how it works. It was a close fight against the former champion. I’m up there. I’ve showed how clinically good I am at striking. And I don’t just say striking, a lot of these guys and even [inaudible 00:17:49] I’ve only got a left hand. Well, if I’ve only got a left hand, and I’m at this level, that’s worse for the guy fighting me because they’ve got every hand, I’ve just got this old left hand and I get everyone with it. So I’m okay. I am okay.
I know the last thing you want to do is come in and make some excuses or anything like that. Was there some issues with your leg?
Darren Till: (18:10)
You know what, I don’t like to sit here, and I’m not that type of guy excuses, but I have to give credit to Rob in the second round. He knee stomped me, like I did to Stephen Thompson. They should be illegal now. And it just blew me knee, like my knee just went under me, crushed and I couldn’t. That was it then for the whole fight. I just had to stay [inaudible 00:18:35], and sort of just fight on it. I hid the pain. I don’t think he recognized, but I was still in there that I’m not trying to sit here and say, Oh, my knee gone, whatever. Maybe it just stopped me bouncing a bit. But it was a real good fight. I feel like I won it. I feel like we both won the fight, I’m not saying I feel like I won it, we just, we both won. It was a clinically great match.
Yeah. I’d agree with that. When you say your knee is gone, do you think you got some damage? Is there surgery ahead, do you think?
Darren Till: (19:03)
Probably going to get a little bit of surgery and all, but that’s nothing. That’s nothing there. I want to get back in the gym. I want to maybe I’ll fix that, get back in the gym. And there’s millions of fights out there for me. I’m one of the top guys in this organization and I’m going to continue to be, so.
Last thing for me, I was going to ask kind of what you do see for yourself. Because I think it is an interesting position, right, where you lost. But again, I think both, you guys’ stock went up-
Darren Till: (19:32)
I’m just happy there’s a Monster here right now.
Usually it’s an empty can. You actually got a real one?
Darren Till: (19:36)
I’m addicted to this shit. Fucking. Carry on, what was the question, sorry.
No, I was just saying, I mean, so where do you go from here? Because like you said, it’s a loss, but I think it’s a lot different than the last ones, as you said. I mean, I don’t think anybody lost respect for you or thought that you, Oh my gosh, there’s questions. So what do you see as next for yourself?
Darren Till: (19:50)
There’s a few fights there. If Rob doesn’t get a title shot, I’d love to go to New Zealand or something and fight Rob again. You know what, I really enjoyed the fight with him. I was first for five rounds. That’s all thanks to me coach, Collin, and my team and my family and my close friends. And Colin gets me ready for every fight, and I was ready for this fight. Maybe I lacked at a few things that we worked on in the gym. It’s a little bit disappointing, but I say this here convincingly, I am going to be a champion. These are all just the little walls that you face, but it’s not like I lost and I’m thinking, either man could have won that fight tonight.
Darren Till: (20:39)
I was the more powerful guy. I was landing the more powerful shots. Rob was the busier guy. That’s just sometimes other fighters. Some judges could say that the power shots maybe win the fight and then other judges like tonight’s saying that the busier fighter won the fight. So I just think we both won. He obviously won, but in my mind we both won.
Speaker 4: (20:57)
All right, Darren, in the fifth round, he got those takedowns at the end, which you mentioned you were getting up. Right before that Herb Dean stopped the action. But can you explain why he did that?
Darren Till: (21:07)
I think he poked me in the eye. I can’t remember.
Speaker 4: (21:09)
Darren Till: (21:09)
But yeah, I think it was two, two going into fifth and then maybe the takedowns, but I don’t know. What did he call? Did he call takedowns when you’re getting back up, because it’s a takedown when he stabilizes the position. He didn’t, I was just getting back up, and back up. So I don’t know. Maybe it seems like [inaudible 00:21:30] for the judges and he, maybe it’s the fifth, but. It is what it is, as Max Holloway would say.
Speaker 4: (21:37)
After the fight, he actually went on TV and said it was the most mentally stressful fight he’s ever had.
Darren Till: (21:41)
Yeah, it was stressful. It was really stressful. If it was two rounds, it’d be easier. But it was a stressful fucking fight. Like the pain, the pain’s nothing. The pain’s nothing, like he hit me with some clocker shots on the chin and I just ate them and I said, come on. And obviously my knee in the second round. Perfect knee stomp. Now that I’ve felt it, instead of giving it out, they definitely should be illegal, but you know what, whatever isn’t it. The pain, the pain didn’t hurt. It was the stress, like mental levels of stress. Because it’s like, you’re just both standing there and you’re like, Oh, we both know what we’re going to do. But he was going to get it first. I remember my old sparring days with Teddy [inaudible 00:08:24], same thing, me and Teddy, such a chess match in the gym. That’s what I like. I liked to smash [inaudible 00:22:33] like that.
Speaker 4: (22:32)
Well, you guys were talking in the cage after the fight. What was that? Just exactly what you guys were saying.
Darren Till: (22:40)
Yeah. We just got so much respect for each other as competitors. And we was just like, he was, in particular, he was just like Darren, “That was so stressful.” He was like, “You nearly finished me in the face.” He’s like, “You shut my lights completely out.” He was like, “That elbow.” He was just crediting me, and I was crediting him obviously. Listen, I’m taking it as a win for myself as well. I’ve showed me level. I’m up there. I’m only in my second fight in the middleweight division, and I’m already right there. I’m one of the top guys and I’m going to continue to be one of the top guys.
Speaker 4: (23:10)
Last one for me. Speaking of where you are in the middleweight division. I don’t know if you’ve seen Israel Adesanya’s tweet about you, yet.
Darren Till: (23:16)
Speaker 4: (23:16)
He said, “I still want to fight Till one day, his striking is beautiful. Stay up, Darren.”
Darren Till: (23:20)
Ha ha. Another good friend. I’m going to have to lay off the [inaudible 00:23:25] for a while all I do a scream in videos to him, the Instagram Mashable. I’ve got a lot of respect for his love. I think he’s a great fighter. You know what, this is no disrespect to him, I think he’s probably an easier fight for me than Rob, because we probably have a great striker model.
Darren Till: (23:41)
Rob’s a bit different, because he mixes it up. I know Israel. Israel is the champion, he’s a great MMA fighter, but he’s a pure striker. I think we’d have a great fight. Rob mixed it up a little bit, and he’s wild. He’s wilder than me, Rob. Like he’ll lunge with his head, and he’ll try and look for, like he caught me with some cracker shots and I was just eating them like just for breakfast. Not at welterweight because you know, but, yeah, we’re going to fight me. Listen, me and Israel are going to fight one day. Just give me a little bit of time. I’ll come back. I’ll knock someone out. And we’ll fight. Don’t worry, I’m still at the top.
Speaker 5: (24:13)
Darren, just a quick one from me. Why did you choose to walk out with no song this time?
Darren Till: (24:20)
It just didn’t seem necessary. Sweet Caroline is for the fans. And it just didn’t seem necessarily. It was different, so I wanted to be different as well. No music, get in there, fight, five rounds and come out, and that’s it. I didn’t feel like any music, just.
Speaker 5: (24:41)
Did you feel weird fighting without fans?
Darren Till: (24:45)
Not really. What was good, was I heard what my coach. My coach was saying things. He actually kept saying “Bouncy, be bouncy.” And I was thinking, I can’t fucking bounce, me knee’s fucked. It was just a fight. It’s just a fucking fight. It’s good there’s no fans, because I think if fans had been there, maybe I could have won the fight, because every shot I landed was powerful shot, and you know, they make noises. But as again Max Holloway, it is what it is.
Speaker 6: (25:12)
Hey, just a quick one for me, but it’s going to be in Portuguese just to make you use a little bit of Portuguese
Darren Till: (25:17)
Darren Till: (25:44)
No. [Portuguese 00:11:30].
Speaker 6: (25:51)
Speaker 7: (25:54)
The gorilla. You’ve had two fights now at middleweight wanted to know if you felt a difference in the power from the welterweights and the middleweights that you fought.
Darren Till: (26:03)
I think the welterweights have probably got more power. Because I got knocked out by one, so. I just fought two massive strikers in the middleweight division, not once was I hurt in the fight. Sort of, Rob threw every, and he did that, I mean, my chin, not once did he hurt me. He got on top of me, I think it was in the first or the second, but that was a slip, but every shot he threw clean, that hit me clean, I was just, there was no problem. So maybe the welterweights hurt harder, I don’t know.
Speaker 7: (26:36)
Your teammate, Tom, impressive knockout earlier, he’s Instagram message, the Schmoe, he wants that bonus. Can you vouch for him to get that bonus tonight?
Darren Till: (26:45)
Maybe me and him. I need 50 G’s now. Now I just lost. You know what, Tom’s on his own path now. [inaudible 00:26:54] He’s going to be a champion. I was sizing all heavyweights up this week for him, just thinking and I just don’t see anyone there for him. Maybe, for me the top three Ngannou, DC, and Stipe, but maybe DC’s on his way out and Stipe, I don’t know. But Tom’s a phenomenon. For his speed and size, it shouldn’t be possible. He’s going to be a champion that’s it.
(silence). Good morning, I guess to everybody. Just want to kick off by expressing a few sentiments of gratitude. It took a hell of a lot of work to get Fight Island together, many months of planning and execution, and we couldn’t have done it without our partners at the Abu Dhabi government, the DCT, Department of Culture and Tourism, a fantastic team that we got to work with, again, for many weeks leading into this event, our partners on the broadcast side with Abu Dhabi Media and their product, UFC Arabia, helping to bring MMA content, UFC content all across region, not just here in Abu Dhabi.
And I also want to say thanks to the several thousand people, the staff members here who worked within the safe zone. I’m not sure if it gets recognized enough, but a lot of people made a lot of sacrifices to quarantine for many weeks, to rehearse how the charter airplane pickups were going to work and the testing procedures. A hell of a lot of work went into it. And so I just wanted to say thanks to everybody.
The bonuses tonight, we’ve got several; Aspinall, Chimaev, Craig, Werdum, and a couple of good Canadians in Boser and Ronson. Each will receive 50,000.
I guess, you had-
I was going to say, yeah, quite a bit of nice things to kick off there, but now that we’ve got this kind of first run in the books of Fight Island, how would the company sum up the experience, the whole, obviously a big financial investment? I mean, is it a win? Are there lessons? How would you sum it up?
Yeah, I mean, absolutely a win. It was a great success. And I think if we look back at the Fight Island experience, I don’t know, five years, 10 years, we’re going to look back and say this was one of the most important moments in UFC’s history.
In my view, this is one of the most progressive and ambitious endeavors that we’ve ever undertaken. You think about some of the other notable concepts like this that have flourished, like the Ultimate Fighter Contender Series, getting into certain regions for the first time, like Russia, China, our efforts in the performance institutes, not only in Las Vegas, but also in Shanghai, this is going to be regarded in that tier of very progressive projects that I think are going to have a long lasting effect, not only for our brand, but more importantly for our sport. And this really was a pretty important catalyst, I feel that’s going to help propel mixed martial arts in the region for many years to come.
So a great success all around. I believe our partners at the DCT believes so as well. We’ve had lots of conversations with them heading into kind of a post-mortem. But overall I think from Dana all the way to our groups, everyone feels like this was a massive success.
I know we’re all excited to get home and see our families. But the question is, when are we coming back? I mean, can you point to another day? Because it does seem like Dana has said, “Look, this has got to keep happening for a while until the world changes again.” So when do we come back?
Yeah, it’s a really important question and a question without an answer at this point. I think everyone’s aware, we do need an opportunity to have some of the international athletes compete. Given the current state of coronavirus in the US and many countries around the world, travel restrictions are not our friend. We’re going to continue to look at opportunities around the world. Perhaps it makes sense to come back, but we’re not resting our laurels on this as the only opportunity. There has to be other opportunities for us.
You need a very committed and willing partner. You need a partner that is going to invest in the operational and the infrastructure to make it happen. As stringent and rigorous as the testing procedures are, those don’t exist everywhere. And so we’ve got to make these decisions very carefully as we look to other options. But, we’re going to continue to look for other options in 2020. It only makes sense because of the wealth of great talent that we’ve got all around the world.
Nice. And can you give us an update domestically with the Apex? Obviously, as we were leaving, we were seeing the headlines getting bad and that sort of thing, and maybe we’re heading towards another shutdown. But you’ve got a big line of events coming in August. So where do we stand there? Is there any concern that there might be cancellations or moves or anything like that?
Yeah, I mean, we’ve got nine events in August and eight in September, when you think about the UFC Pay-Per-Views the Fight Nights and Contender Series. Here’s the great thing about the last couple of months is we really feel like we’ve blazed a trail, but we’ve learned a hell of a lot.
So, Jacksonville feels like years previous. It feels like years ago. And I think from Jacksonville to the first set of Apex events, to now here in Abu Dhabi at Fight Island, we’ve learned a ton. And so what we’re going to continue to do is improve the process. We’re going to continue to prove the health and safety regulations, especially with testing procedures, our operational framework, how many people work on the floor, what type of social distancing rules are required. And we’re going to improve it to the point where we can confidently say that we can be as safe in the Apex in Las Vegas as we are here, because I’m a firm believer, I don’t believe there’s any place on earth that’s as safe as where we are right now. And there’s no reason given what we’ve been through in the last three weeks of Fight Island, that we can’t replicate it to the same extent in Las Vegas.
And last thing for me, kind of an interesting moment tonight during the broadcast, a very passionate Dan Hardy was overheard kind of going at Herb Dean a little bit. We saw some photos, but just curious if you guys had any comment on that. I mean, obviously he was battling for fighters, but I don’t know how appropriate it is to do on air. I don’t know. Do you have any comments on that?
Yeah, yeah. So, I wasn’t on the floor when it happened. I was back in the office. I did hear some of the comments on the broadcast. Here’s the thing. You know, being a ref in MMA is one of the hardest roles that you can have. And Herb Dean is one of our best categorically. Bottom line is health and safety of the athletes is of paramount importance. On the other side, you got a guy like Hardy who, very successful MMA career, an excellent analyst right now. But he’s passionate, as you say, and he’s fiery.
So I think the important thing for us to do is try to get a handle and try to get an understanding of what actually happened. Obviously this is not something that you address with either one of the parties during the show. These guys have a job to do, and so we certainly don’t want to disrupt their efforts to do an excellent job as we expect they always will. So we’ll go back, we’ll check it out, try to get a better understanding of what happened, and really sort of take it from there. But, I guess the bottom line is there’s one group of people that are able to talk to officials during a fight night and that’s Ratner’s Regulatory Group and no one else. So we’ll see what happens next week when we get back to the office.
Speaker 8: (35:46)
Yeah, just a quick one for me. You mentioned you were looking at other possible international places to go this year in fact. Why would you go away from Abu Dhabi with what they’ve already got set up? Is that in pursuit of crowds or just because of location?
No, I mean, I think there’s a few things. An effective partnership has to have two groups that are committed. And there’s still a lot of work that’d be that needs to be done. And so this isn’t a commentary on how far along we are on the process. There’s a lot of heavy lifting that needs to get done if we do want to replicate this. God, if we could do this several times a year, we would. This has been absolutely phenomenal, and one of the best experiences any of us have ever had.
I mean, we had people who were on the ground here, communicating with people who are back in their home cities about to depart to come to Fight Island, talking about how excited they were. And so for an athlete or an official, or media members, or whoever you are, UFC staff, you were here, there was a lot of work to do, but there was all also a long list, multitude of things to enjoy yourself with here at Fight Island, whether it was the golf or the racing or the bikes or the beach. And so it was an incredible experience for everyone involved. And so we’d absolutely love to come back at any point.
Speaker 9: (37:09)
Sorry. What are the lessons, do you think, that you’ve learned from here that you could take, like you said to Las Vegas, or maybe take somewhere else?
I think the big question is how do you effectively operate and maintain a bubble with integrity? And I think that’s probably the most important thing because if anything went sideways, the whole thing crumbles. But I think, again, the rigor and the intellect that was brought to not only the planning, but the execution is the key driver in the overall success. No one was getting in and out. I’m sure you guys were in double digits in terms of the number of tests that you’ve had in the last few weeks, pre-departure, arrival, end of quarantine, or middle of quarantine, and then prior to every event.
Those things take considerable financial investment. They take considerable quality in the team that’s operating and seeing these through. And I think the attention to that type, or the adherence to that type of quality plan is what is the most important thing. At the end of the day, we want to produce the most amazing fights that our viewers can see all around the world. But events like this don’t happen unless you’ve got full adherence to an operational health and safety plan that is not compromised at all.
Speaker 9: (38:30)
Given you’ve seen the provisions and the protocols that are in place, how far away are we from fans, do you think?
Well, it depends on what geography you’re talking about, what country you’re talking about. I’ve noticed in Europe, they’re starting to have open air events to a small number of fans, few thousand people here or there. For us, it all depends on the destination. I don’t want to surmise what the outlook looks like in Las Vegas, but I do think it’s probably a while in the US. It’s probably a while in Canada. It’s probably a while in Australia, and a lot of other places. I’d have to ask our partners here how they feel about the opportunity.
We’ve kind of looked at 2020 and said, okay, we need to adapt to the current environment and make sure that we can plan events to be able to broadcast to our fans all around the world, and deliver live content to our broadcast partners, and not have any tickets sold. So our number one priority right now is to deliver live events when the time is right, and we’re confident that the operational framework can work in whatever region we want to go to. Then that’s when I think we make that decision.
Speaker 9: (39:44)
Would you feel that Abu Dhabi would be a front runner given to know that, as you said, everything’s in place at the minute?
Yeah. A hundred percent, a hundred percent. I mean, we got to learn not only about our counterparts at the Department of Culture and Tourism, but a lot about some of the progressive investment that the government here in Abu Dhabi is making into health, into sports science, into AI and advanced data. And a lot of these things, you can see how they could work within the UFC world. And what we want to try to do, advancing the tools that our athletes have and creating the right conditions for athletes to compete in. So I wouldn’t be surprised if our partnership continues for years to come outside of the original deal, which was the five events for five years.
Speaker 9: (40:32)
All right. Anything else, guys? I didn’t want to say it off the top, but I want to say it right now. And I appreciate, and we appreciate, from Dana and Lawrence and the rest of their crew, you guys have made a lot of sacrifices as well to be here, a lot of time away from the families, great distances traveled. So we appreciate each and every one of you, and how much time you’ve put into making Fight Island a success. So thanks a lot.
Well, congratulations on the victory and a very entertaining fight. I mean, just give us a feeling of how are you feeling at this moment after a battle like that?
Rob Whittaker: (42:32)
Yeah. Good, I guess really, really good. Really relieved. Obviously, there was a lot of pressure and stressors going into this fight and I’m just happy. I’m just happy we got the result that we came for. I’m happy that the work trip was successful. I’m happy that I got to showcase more of my skill sets and open up. I’ve got to fight adversity in the fight again. Yeah. It is what it is. It was a great fight, stressful fight.
Yeah. It’s interesting. The stressful, why? I mean more so than another fight? What added to it?
Rob Whittaker: (43:08)
Yeah. That was the most technical striking fight I’ve ever had. It was a chess match. I’ve got a bit antsy in the first round and he made me pay for it. And I just remember thinking, “Oh, not like this.” But honestly it’s go back up and it’s like, “I got to get back to work,” changed it up a little bit and it was just a chess match from then. He was waiting for me to come in. I was waiting for him to come in. Yeah.
How certain were you about the scores? Because when the fight ended, I think we all kind of looked at each other and thought this is a really, really close fight.
Rob Whittaker: (43:43)
No, I understood that it was a very close fight. I think the second round was definitely mine, third round, fourth round could’ve gone either way, but I think I showed my championship level mentality and experience in that last round, especially when it was so close in the hands and the standup game and then to finish it off, taking him down was, I think a big boon in the scorecards for me,
Last thing for me, I know you’ve got some time playing video games coming up, I guess, for a couple of weeks by yourself. But what do you want to do now? I mean, we know that you said there was pressure there’s, nice to get break. Now you want to go back to the family. Are you thinking about where I rank in the division? How do I get a title shot? Is that on your mind at all?
Rob Whittaker: (44:25)
Not really to be honest. My biggest thing right now is I want to go back home to my babies, to my wife and just… That’s why I do all this. That’s why I can do what I do. It’s because of them. Honestly, I am championship level. Everyone can see that. Everyone’s always known that. I wasn’t myself last fight. I believe that not to take anything away from he’s a great striker, but I wasn’t myself last fight. I think this is a good win. I’m a champion without the belt, with the belt, it doesn’t matter. It is what it is. And I’m looking forward to getting back to work and just seeing how that next fight goes.
Speaker 10: (45:03)
Hey Rob, just how hurt were you in the first round?
Rob Whittaker: (45:07)
Yeah, not really.
Rob Whittaker: (45:14)
It just shocked me. He put me on my ass. It’s one of those shots, happens. You see it happen a lot in fights and it was just a well timed shot. And obviously I had to get back up, slow things down, regroup, and then just get back to work. Take advantage of that.
Speaker 10: (45:35)
Are you aware that you hurt his knee in round two?
Rob Whittaker: (45:38)
No, like how?
Speaker 10: (45:40)
He needs surgery on it, he thinks.
Rob Whittaker: (45:43)
With what? What did I do?
Speaker 10: (45:44)
You stomped on his knee and he said he heard the whole knee just pop right away.
Rob Whittaker: (45:48)
Oh, going to stomp more often.
Speaker 10: (45:53)
He actually says now he thinks they should be banned, but it’s Jake.
Rob Whittaker: (45:57)
I want soccer kicks back. So, honestly it’s a weapon I utilize. I think it’s a tricky kick. I think you have to time it well, I think the accuracy of that kick has to be done well. Obviously I did it from a switch stance, so I throw it with my right leg if I’m not mistaken. So it was a bit off putting, a bit trickier. That’s the chess match, that’s the chess fight. That’s why it was so technical is because we were both trying to wait for each other to counter each other, to wait for each other to open up so that we could capitalize on each other’s holes. That’s why I had to ship away at his defense from the outside. I had to calf kick, I had a stomp. I had to work on the outside. Not only does it do damage, but it also racks up in the scorecards.
Speaker 10: (46:44)
When he spoke about the judge’s decision, he just said, “Look, it’s one of those things where you had the volume, but he had the power shots and it’s whichever the way the judges look at it that night.” Would you agree with that assessment?
Rob Whittaker: (46:54)
It was a close fight. I think the take downs weighed a lot. I think honestly, who knows how the judges score things. It could have gone his way and I’d be whingeing right now. It is what it is. It’s exactly as you said, sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t. I went out there, I laid it on the line. I displayed my skill case and yeah, I got the result.
Speaker 10: (47:18)
Yeah. He said he felt that you were both winners and that you both sort of won.
Rob Whittaker: (47:21)
Yeah. Honestly, he’s a great fighter. He’s a great fighter. That was a very high caliber fight and yeah, he’d exactly right. We came here… He’s exactly right. Look where we are. Look what we do for work. Look what we do for a living. This is amazing. We’re some of the luckiest people in the world and yeah, he may have lost the result tonight, but he’s still a winner.
Speaker 10: (47:46)
And last one for me, just exactly what did you guys say to each other in the octagon? It looks like you’re having a good chat and you were sort of joking around about the twitchiness and stuff like that.
Rob Whittaker: (47:52)
Yeah. It’s a stressful fight, we were both waiting for each other to have a go. We both knew the game. We both knew the stakes. It was a technical fight and it was stressful. Because we were both waiting, trying to bait the other guy to come in. Yeah. I can’t explain it. I can’t explain to you guys how stressful it is.
Speaker 11: (48:15)
Just a quick one from me, Robin. What exactly do you see next for you? The middleweight division [inaudible 00:48:25], you have a couple other names trying to get the next shot. Like you say, you’re the champion with or without the belt, but do you see a clear path for you now after this win?
Rob Whittaker: (48:36)
Well, yeah. I’m championship level. I’m ready for a championship fight right now. Whenever. Tomorrow, last night, it doesn’t matter. I’m championship level. That’s just the level, I displayed that tonight. That’s just the level I’m at. I’m always ready for a championship title shot. That’s just me.
Speaker 11: (48:55)
If you don’t get that title shot right now, which option do you think is the best for you?
Rob Whittaker: (49:01)
To be honest, I don’t care. Never have, it’s why the UFC like me so much. Because they line them up, I knock them down and that’s the plan. I believe as fighters, we shouldn’t be picking and choosing who we fight, we just fight who they put in front of us. Eventually you have to fight them all and that’s the game.
Rob Whittaker: (49:19)
Honestly, my biggest thing right now is I want to go home, man. Like I said, my family, not much else matters right now. Cheese.
Speaker 12: (49:33)
Robert, during the fight, I noticed that for a lot of times you were moving your right leg. What was that? Do you have any injuries or…
Rob Whittaker: (49:45)
No, it’s a habit I have. So yeah. You mean when my right leg hits my left leg? So, it’s a bad habit I have. So what I do is I use the sweat on my left leg to get traction on my right foot. To be honest, it just makes things slipperier, I don’t know why I fucking do it. Sorry. I don’t know why I do it.
Speaker 12: (50:09)
Okay. So, and before the fight, [inaudible 00:50:12] said that he would be ready to step in just in case Costa or Adezona, steps out for an injury or anything else. Would you be open if UFC offers to you the idea of being like a plan B for September?
Rob Whittaker: (50:29)
Yeah. That’s a great time. Like we have a bunch of guys, Jacob and Izzy who are going to prepare for that time. Hopefully we can all get on the same card on time. I’ll be preparing around that time. So if we can all get on the same card, that would be great. We have a team, we’re all getting ready and we’ll be ready. We’re always ready. Jacob was ready this week in case Darren pulled out. So yeah, it’s a fun journey.
Speaker 13: (51:02)
Robert, right here. Did you get a chance to see Hamzab Tumive who fought twice in two UC fights within just 10 days? He competed both at welterweight and middleweight division and what’s your impression of him?
Rob Whittaker: (51:16)
It’s unreal. He just destroyed his opponents twice in two weeks. I’ve got to give it to him, that guy is a savage and his dedication to just staying on weight and then fighting someone bigger and then going down to welterweight to fight someone… Ah, I’ve got to give it to him, they don’t make them like that anymore.
Speaker 13: (51:37)
So would you be open to face him?
Rob Whittaker: (51:39)
He’s a welterweight and I hope he stays there.
Speaker 13: (51:42)
He said he wanted to be a champion in two weight classes.
Rob Whittaker: (51:48)
Maybe he’ll do welterweight first. Who knows? Like that’s an ambitious journey. There’s a lot of fighting he’s got to do. You know what I mean? I’ll worry about it when he, whatever happens, it’s a bit silly of me to start making plans for that now.
Rob Whittaker: (52:11)