After quick win at UFC Saudi Arabia, what’s next for Robert Whittaker?

MMA: UFC 298-Whittaker vs Costa
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday the UFC made it’s way to Saudi Arabia for the first time with a middleweight banger in the main event. Former champion Robert Whittaker (26-7) was taking on Ikram Aliskerov (15-2). However, this was not the original main event.

Whittaker was supposed to face Khamzat Chimaev, but Chimaev had to pull out due to illness. On about a weeks’ notice, Aliskerov stepped up to take the opportunity of a lifetime against Whittaker. However, the jump up in competition was incredibly steep and it was going to be a sink or swim moment for Aliskerov.

Turned out to be a sink moment for him. Whittaker came out extremely sharp and it didn’t take long before he rocked Aliskerov bad. The former UFC champion swarmed and picked his shots perfectly before putting Aliskerov out just before the two minute mark of the first round.

What’s next after UFC Saudi Arabia?

This was a massive statement for Whittaker who is now 2-0 since he lost to current champion Dricus Du Plessis last summer. Whittaker once again proved that he’s one of the very best middleweights in the world and he’s still right there in the middleweight title picture.

So, with this win, what’s next for the former UFC champion? If we are looking at the rankings, I think a matchup with Sean Strickland makes all the sense in the world. However, I don’t think that’s happening. Strickland dominated Israel Adesanya last September before losing his title in a razor close split decision to DDP in January.

Strickland wanted an immediate rematch but took a fight against Paulo Costa at the request of the UFC. Strickland won that fight and said he’s waiting for the winner of DDP – Adesanya which takes place in August. Strickland deserves a title fight and I think he’ll get the winner by the end of the year.

Whittaker is likely going to be the backup fighter for the Perth title fight, but he’ll likely need one more win before getting a title shot. So, who should the UFC pair him with? Khamzat Chimaev hasn’t been reliable, but if they can make that fight, I think it’s still a tremendous fight to make perhaps in Abu Dhabi in October.

If that doesn’t work, I’d be very intrigued to see Whittaker take on fourth ranked Nassourdine Imavov next. Either way, if Whittaker gets one more win, you cannot deny him a title shot.

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