Robert Whittaker fires warning at champion Michael Bisping but happy to bide his time in quest for UFC title
UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping is in for a "rude shock" if he thinks Robert Whittaker is a more favourable match-up than the other title contenders.
Despite Cuban powerhouse Yoel Romero occupying the No 1 contender spot for the past five months, Bisping said on his podcast this week that the New Zealand-born fighter's devastating stoppage of Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza in Kansas City last Sunday (NZ time) proved he was more deserving of a shot at the belt.
While Bisping offered plenty of praise for Whittaker, the Englishman also admitted that the 'The Reaper' was a better suit for him stylistically, leading to suggestions that he sees it as the easier fight.
Yet rather than take that as a sign of disrespect, Whittaker relished the underdog role and warned Bisping to underestimate him at his peril.
* Whittaker ready to show title credentials in biggest test of UFC career
* Time for UFC fighter Robert Whittaker to reap the rewards
* Hunt heading back to where it all began with headline act at UFC Auckland
"I don't think I'm a good match-up for anyone," Whittaker said.
"It's hard to be insulted. Just about every matchmaker in the world has had me as the underdog since my career started - I love it.
"I love people not taking me seriously, I love people thinking I'm too small, not fast enough or don't hit hard enough. I love it because I love shocking the world."
Before Bisping can fight either Whittaker or Romero, he has a confirmed bout against returning legend Georges St-Pierre to get through first.
While they are yet to agree on a date, it is likely to take place in the latter half of the year, meaning Whittaker will most probably have to take another fight or risk losing his place in line.
That doesn't faze the Sydney-based striker, who, with seven consecutive wins, is one of the hottest fighters in the UFC.
Of the top eight-ranked middleweights, the 26-year-old is the only one under 30 and is 13 years younger than Romero.
And Whittaker is happy to bide his time and keep improving until his big moment comes.
"I'm not in the position that everyone else is in," he added.
"Everyone else is just about at the end of their careers, trying to finish their twilight years with the belt on.
"This is the start of my career and I'm in no rush. I'm just going to keep investing in my own skill-sets, keep investing in myself as a fighter and that in itself will further my career and give me better results in the long run.
"I want that title shot, I want that belt and I'm happy just working away until they give me that shot."
Whittaker kicked off his winning streak three years ago during the UFC's first and only event in New Zealand.
And while he may not be on the card for the organisation's return on June 11, he is hoping to be in Auckland to watch Mark Hunt make his long-awaited MMA debut on home soil against fellow knockout artist Derrick Lewis.
"It's a mountain versus the ocean. It's going to be a crazy fight," Whittaker said of the headline act at UFC Fight Night.
"I'd love to come and watch the fight. There's a lot of boys there that I'd love to come over and support."