How Robert Whittaker adopted and utilizes his unorthodox style


Let’s take a closer look at The Reaper’s unorthodox fighting style

Robert Whittaker is one of the best fighters in the UFC middleweight division. A former champion himself, Whittaker has a background in Karate and his fighting style is predominantly based on that.

Robert Whittaker is a former UFC Middleweight champion
Robert Whittaker of Australia in action against Israel Adesanya of New Zealand during the middleweight title bout of the UFC 243 fight night in Melbourne on October 6, 2019. (Photo by ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE / AFP) / — IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE — (Photo by ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE/AFP via Getty Images)

Karate as a singular style does not possess enough strength in MMA as it can be easily neutralized through high-pressure wrestling. What Whittaker has achieved to do successfully so far is set up his foundation in Karate as his base style and wrapped it around with effective jiu-jitsu and strong wrestling defense.

His wrestling defense was in full display in his two gruelling battles against Yoel Romero, one of the most decorated wrestlers in the history of the game. GSP had laid out the blueprint for this blend, but Whittaker stayed true to his roots instead of transitioning to a wrestling heavy style.

When asked about his style in their first encounter at UFC 243, Israel Adesanya said that his style is different, something that others take time to get used to. What he meant by this is the effective footwork that ‘The Reaper’ relies on that sets him apart.

It’s important for a fighter to calculate the opponent’s speed, power and precision before they move in or out of their range. What Whittaker does masterfully is fusing in and out movements with his lateral movements that confuses his opponents. He always ensures that he lands a two or three punch combo when he gets in range and ends his combinations with a solid kick. This forces the opponent to reset and deviate from their game plan.

He keeps his heal of his rear foot to get the power into the push, utilizing movement as a weapon. He eliminates telegraph by feinting kicks and instead of moving in with his head low and landing a flurry of punches.

Can Robert Whittaker rectify his mistakes?

One of the most important reasons he lost his title at UFC 243 apart from the fact that Izzy was a much better fighter, is that the night was his lack of landing creative punches and kicks from weird angles. Adesanya shadowed his movements which froze ‘The Reaper’ who was forced into a firefight rather than circling outside and countering.

Robert Whittaker got the better of Kelvin Gastelum
Robert Whittaker lands a kick on Kelvin Gastelum (UFC)

The key to his victory come Saturday night would be stick to his roots and remain immensely patient, even if it means putting out a lacklustre fight. He also needs to try and grapple Adesanya to negate the kicks and get in range.

More MMA news

Follow our dedicated MMA page for instant MMA news and updates