Sport: Whittaker's rise from housing commission to UFC champion - PressFrom - Australia
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SportWhittaker's rise from housing commission to UFC champion

06:35  11 february  2019
06:35  11 february  2019 Source:   msn.com

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Australia' s UFC world middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has come a very long way in a short period of time. From humble beginnings growing up in housing commission , 28-year-old Whittaker is now preparing for his first title defence against America' s Kelvin Gastelum in the main event at UFC

"I’ve never been given anything easily in this life. I work hard for everything. Just because I come from a single parent family living in housing commission and going to a public school doesn’t stop me from achieving my goals." Robert Whittaker . UFC World Champion .

Whittaker's rise from housing commission to UFC champion© AAP Focus: Robert Whittaker is set to headline Sunday's UFC event in Melbourne. For someone whose biggest aim in life was once to move out of home and buy his first car, Australia's UFC world middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has come a very long way in a short period of time.

From humble beginnings growing up in housing commission, 28-year-old Whittaker is now preparing for his first title defence against America's Kelvin Gastelum in the main event at UFC 234 at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

"It's a milestone of mine ... It's a very special moment. I think the biggest thing is I've missed home, I've wanted to fight here for a long time and to be able to come home and defend my belt, I guess in my career one of the biggest fights to date, it's pretty unreal," Whittaker said after his workout on Wednesday.

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Whittaker ' s rise from housing commission to UFC champion The Age07:56 UFC MMA Robert Whittaker . Robert Whittaker : Respect to Kelvin Gastelum, but 'I went 10 rounds with a monster' MMAjunkie05:30 UFC MMA Robert Whittaker . Robert Whittaker UFC 234 media workout

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"When I was a young adult my biggest ambition was to try and live by myself and be able to pay the rent, I come from a housing commission background.

"When I got my first car – that was it. I had made it. The next one was: let's just try and get a place of my own so I can be independent.

"I've come so far from that point, I would never have believed myself."

Whittaker's rise from housing commission to UFC champion© AAP Focus: Whittaker is undefeated in his last nine fights. And what would Whittaker's reaction have been if someone told him when he was still fighting in Australia's Cage Fighting Championships that he would one day sell out Rod Laver Arena in eight minutes? "Bull----."

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Robert Whittaker . Champion . The champion and interim champion are considered to be in the top positions of their respective divisions and therefore are not eligible for voting by weight-class. If you are a member of the media and would like to apply to participate in the UFC fighter rankings, please

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But that is the reality for Whittaker and he was certainly made to earn his belt, having beaten Yoel Romero, one of the division's most fearsome competitors, in his last two fights roughly a year apart. In fact, Whittaker is responsible for two of Romero's three career losses.

"Yoel gave me his best in 10 rounds and couldn't put me away," Whittaker said. "I went 10 rounds with 'The Monster' and no one else has."

Whittaker's rise from housing commission to UFC champion© AAP Champion and challenger: Kelvin Gastelum (right) and Whittaker. He laughed: "It is refreshing to have a different opponent other than Yoel."

Whittaker is currently enjoying a nine-fight undefeated streak which stretches all the way back to 2014 and the champ credits his team for his incredible success.

"My team is the best in world, my coaching staff is the best in the world," he said.

Whittaker admitted he felt more pressure fighting in his home country but he was trying not to let the expectation affect him and, instead, focus more on the positive aspects of the event.

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"My most memorable fight was in Rod Laver [against Derek Brunson] so I'm expecting Sunday to go off," Whittaker said.

"The energy from that stadium and the crowd when I walked out last time, you could feel it, so it was unreal.

"The biggest thing I can say is I'm relaxed, it feels great, I was at my house until yesterday with my kids and I feel really, really good."

Whittaker believes that as the champion he shouldn't have to fight anywhere else but Australia.

"Travelling abroad is a nightmare, it affects everyone differently, you get the ones that are like, 'I flew in yesterday and I feel great'. Yeah, cool. Not me," he said.

Gastelum made a bold prediction that he would knock Whittaker out in the first round, but Whittaker intimated the challenger might end up eating those words.

"He might, but a lot of other people have said that. There's a club," Whittaker said with a smile.

Whittaker concedes Gastelum had embarked on a similar journey on the way to this meeting.

"He's beaten some big names, he's young, he's hungry, he's tough, he hits like a truck, he's a got a good, well-rounded skill set," he said.

"It's definitely not a step down [from Romero]. I respect his abilities, he's a dangerous fighter, he's going to come in there hungry with nothing to lose – one of the most dangerous combinations.

"I think we go in there very, very, very, very even, it's just I'm going to bring the best Robert Whittaker to date on Sunday, and I'm dangerous on a bad day."

UFC makes call on Whittaker's title.
Robert Whittaker will remain middleweight champion after the UFC announced an interim title fight between his two biggest rivals.

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