Former UFC champion Robert Whittaker is back from Fight Island with a victory and a reinvigorated love of the sport.
"The break lit a fire in me and I'm back enjoying what I do," he told The Sun-Herald. "The media, the fight week, I'm loving my job once again."
Robert Whittaker celebrates after his win over Darren Till.Credit:Getty Images
Whittaker will spend another week in self-isolation after returning from the Middle East on Monday.
"I was made for quarantine," he said with a laugh. "I've been loving this. The biggest killer is not seeing my family though."
He's also been learning the guitar while in isolation, adding: "I'm open for gigs and birthday events."
It's a strange situation for anyone returning from overseas sporting conquests at the moment, having to sit by themselves for a fortnight rather than bask in the glory with friends and family.
"It's a bit annoying, it takes away from winning and you can't share it, you lose your buzz a bit," he said. "Maybe I can get into a fight with one of the desk staff or something."
Whittaker is clearly in a good mood and full of humour. A strong victory over Scotland's Darren Till pushed him back into the winners' circle, and hopefully back into title contention in the near future.
"It's a goal of mine to get back up there but, honestly, I'm pretty relaxed," he said. "I'm just going to do my thing, get in the gym and hopefully get another fight before the end of the year."
He said his fight preparation, while different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had gone smoothly.
"I took to it like a fish in water and just enjoyed my entire lead-up," he said. "I was also very blessed to have my entire team isolate with me away from their families and friends to help me with the lead-up. I couldn't have done it without them."
Whittaker came out of the Till fight with no injury concerns and, once he clears quarantine, is looking to fight again in either November or December, in Australia or elsewhere.
Norway's Jack Hermansson was one fighter Whittaker is interested in fighting, going as far as to call out the winner of last weekend's fight in advance.
"He's looked pretty good lately, but be careful what you ask for," Whittaker said.
Whittaker is hoping to fight again in 2020. Credit:Getty Images
UFC President Dana White, however, would prefer Whittaker to face American Jared Cannonier.
When asked if he'll watch the middleweight title fight between New Zealand's Israel Adesanya, who took the belt from Whittaker last year, and Brazil's Paulo Costa on September 19, Whittaker said he'd tune in if he wasn't too busy that day.
"Depends what I'm doing that day – I'm not going to move things around for it but if I'm at home I'll chuck it on," he said.
Whittaker's ascent to the top of division was complete in 2017 when he became the first Australian UFC champion, but injuries and ailments mean he only defended the title once, in 2018, before losing it to Adesanya in 2019.
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