We admit that State of Origin and the lead-up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament has dominated our attention is recent days and weeks until we noticed, to our mild chagrin that we have been neglecting events in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the code of mixed martial arts.
The Mouth That Roared has been relatively silent of late, and without Conor McGregor to stir the pot, the only thing upon which we can lean is Aussie Rob Whittaker, who is paving a path for the Aussie contingent, leading them out of the fighting for free environment of the boozers and showing them that an octagon will substitute nicely for a pub and carries the addition benefit of steady pay for steady work.
Whitaker is of the opinion that he has barely scratched the surface of his upside potential and his middleweight class certainly provides a draw for those who follow the sport.
“A big factor for me is that I do try to be a role model for my kids, and by virtue of that, for other athletes, other young guys trying to get up in the sport,” he told foxsports.com.au.
It may sound slightly odd that Whittaker aspires to be a role model for John, Jack and Lilliana, until you remember that Gandhi had no children.
Whittaker will be the main draw at UFC 225 on June 10 when he defends his title for the first time against Yoel Romero of Cuba.
Two other Aussies will be on the card.
Number 12 ranked heavyweight Tai Tuivasa will fight Andrei Arlovski. Tuivasa has yet to lose in MMA contests. Like Whittaker, a Sydney-sider, he boasts successful stints as a boxer and kick boxer.
Megan Anderson will represent Aussie womanhood, making her debut agasint Holly Holm.
MMA is ascendant in Australia, something not lost on Whittaker, who views himself as a prophet of sorts, saying, “That’s a major objective of mine, with my own career, to try promote the sport in a positive light for Australian mixed martial artists.”
Painters use canvas and oil paints. MMA artists use canvas and blood to create their artworks.