Robert Whittaker dominated Marvin Vettori over the final two rounds of their middleweight bout in the co-main event of UFC Paris at Accor Arena. Now, his UFC title hopes rest on the wide shoulders of Alex Pereira.
Whittaker defeated Vettori by scores of 30-27 twice and 29-28 and has now won four of his last five. His only defeat was to champion Israel Adesanya.
Adesanya, who has two wins over Whittaker, will fight Pereira at UFC 281 on Nov. 12 in New York. If Pereira wins, it could open the door for another Whittaker title fight. But if Adesanya wins, it’s probably going to be a wait for Whittaker.
But Whittaker, who out-struck Vettori 74-33 and landed the fight’s only takedown, sent a message afterward.
“Including the champion, I’m the most dangerous man in the division,” Whittaker said.
Vettori landed some good shots in a close first round and had what was likely the best connect of the round when he caught Whittaker with a straight right. But Whittaker seemed quicker and was able to control the distance and he began to take over as the fight progressed.
Vettori only landed 10 significant strikes in the second and only nine in the third. Whittaker had 25 in the second and 27 in the third.
Many of them were big, hard shots and they left Vettori bleeding from the nose and mouth.
“All respect to Vettori,” Whittaker said. “I was hurting him and he didn’t go away.”
— UFC (@ufc) September 3, 2022
Whittaker has some hope for another title shot. Pereira has beaten Adesanya twice in kickboxing. If he does it again, that could open the way for a Pereira-Whittaker bout for the title. If Adesanya wins, Whittaker will have to keep winning and clean out the division again to get another opportunity.
Clearly, though, Whittaker stands apart from the rest of the middleweights in the world other than Adesanya at this stage.