Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has explained why he chose not to engage in a face-to-face interview with Marvin Vettori ahead of their fight later today.
At UFC Paris on Saturday, French MMA fans will get their first taste of live Octagon action with a card that boasts a number of intriguing bouts and notable names in the combat sports world.
While hometown hero Ciryl Gane will no doubt be the main attraction for the Parisians heading to the Accor Arena, they’ll also witness a former undisputed titleholder in action in the co-main event as #1-ranked 185lber Whittaker looks to rebound from his second defeat to Israel Adesanya.
In his way of doing so will be Vettori, a man who knows a thing or two about falling to 0-2 in a series with the dominant reigning champ.
Ahead of the event, the UFC brought back fight week open workouts. But that wasn’t the only rarity that the promotion was hoping to put on pre-fight.
At UFC San Diego, headliners Dominick Cruz and Marlon Vera engaged in a face-to-face interview — a staple of notable boxing match buildups. The hope had also been that Paddy Pimblett would feature in one with Jordan Leavitt ahead of UFC London in July, but “The Monkey King” seemingly declined.
After the format was well received by the masses in August, the UFC had evidently looked to stage another pre-UFC Paris with the co-featured pairing. But the Australian has explained why that hasn’t come to fruition.
Whittaker: I Don’t Dislike Vettori, So What’s The Point?
During his appearance at UFC Paris media day on Wednesday, Whittaker was asked what he makes of Vettori as an opponent and person, and about any experiences he’s had with “The Italian Dream.”
In response, “The Reaper” described his relationship with the joint #2-ranked middleweight as “amicable.” With that in mind and having discussed it with Vettori himself in an interaction at the fighter hotel, Whittaker questioned what the point of a face-to-face interview would be.
“My experiences with him have been great, very amicable,” Whittaker said. “You know, we were gonna do a sit-down — what’s it called? We were gonna do a face-to-face (interview). I didn’t really know what it was and whether I wanted to do it or not, but I ran into him down near the microwaves — he was behind me, of course he is — and I straight up asked him if he wanted to do it.
“He was really cool and I got a real amicable vibe from him. We were very friendly. So I started thinking, ‘Well, if we’re not gonna be sitting there bad-mouthing each other, then what’re we doing?’ I don’t wanna just hang out. So yeah, I just left that. I think he thinks I stood him up.”
While they were amicable face-to-face, Vettori didn’t have particularly good things to say about Whittaker’s threat during his own interaction with the media. The Italian claimed to have more hunger than the Aussie, who he suggested has not developed at all in recent years.
Cordial relationship or not, the pair will throw down in pursuit of a win on Saturday, with both men looking to edge closer to another shot at gold, be it in the form of a trilogy versus Adesanya or a first-time clash with upcoming title challenger Alex Pereira.
Who will leave Paris with a victory added to their record, Robert Whittaker or Marvin Vettori?