Robert Whittaker is the current Middleweight Champion of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), the premier MMA ( Mixed Martial Arts) promotion which now promotes some of the biggest sporting talent, live events and pay-per-view purchases around the globe – representing over 500 athletes, and over 50 events year on year.
Whittaker was born on the 20th of December 1990 in Middlemore Hospital New Zealand. Australia is now home, however Robert is a proud representative of both his New Zealand and Australian heritage. It is this duel cultural loyalty that has seen him amass a huge fan following in both countries, and places him as the most popular MMA athlete in Australasia (with that popularity now increasing throughout the world).
Robert’s athletic career started in Junior Rugby League when he was only 5 years old. From an early age Robert was seen as an athletic prospect, an athlete with tenacious drive and a natural athletic ability in whatever sport he committed to. Robert continued to excel in Rugby League until the age of 18, in which time he played in 2 grand finals for Kingsgrove Colts and also played in the NRL development program with Cronulla Sharks.
But it was Robert’s early enrolment in martial arts that would eventually pave the way to his true calling. At 7 years old Robert’s father, Jack (believer in the value of martial arts) would enroll Robert into “Go Ju-Ryu” Karate, and after years of refining his skill, Robert received his Junior black belt at 14 years old.
In 2000 Robert’s parents separated, with Robert and his brother Steven moving to Menai to live with their father in a housing commission unit while attending Menai Public School. Things were tough but Robert found his outlet and focus in sport, continuing martial arts and playing rugby league. During this time Robert decided to apply more time and focus to MMA, taking to the sport immediately – He quickly made his mark on the Australian MMA scene with an explosive and entertaining fighting style.
2012 was a breakout year for Whittaker, and after some glittering performances in the Australian MMA, he earned a place on the globally televised UFC Series, “The Ultimate Fighter– The Smashes”. Rob went on to win the series, confirming a contract offer from the UFC and a decision to stop playing rugby league. He quit his job at Rail Corp as an apprentice electrician and pursued a full time professional career as an MMA athlete.
Robert is a man of true value. A family man, married with two young children, and often comments on his humble beginning’s and family first mantra. When people watch him in the octagon he wants them to understand that his performances are a product of his work ethic and an attitude towards believing in yourself and the goals you must set; “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”. It is this drive, work ethic and positive outlook, coupled with the support of his family that allows Whittaker to stay grounded and chase his dreams.
Currently on a 8 fight unbeaten streak in the UFC, Robert created history as Australia/New Zealand’s first to claim the UFC Middleweight Championship Belt after defeating #1 ranked middleweight contender, Yoel Romero at UFC213 in Las Vegas, NV. This result has propelled Robert to a #1 UFC Middleweight ranking.
Set to defend his title against Luke Rockhold in Perth at UFC 221 on February 11, the fight was unfortunately shelved due to Robert being injured. He is set to return to the Octagon mid-year and has already begun preparing for this.
The poster boy of MMA and Sport as we know it in Australia and New Zealand, Rob is regarded as one of the premier Athletes of his time and is primed for international stardom.
Robert Whittaker is currently supported by Reebok, Mercedes Benz Sydney, Muscle Meals Direct, RivalUS Nutrition, Unibet, Kaplan Homes, 20FOUR, AcronAir, and is aligned with the TAFE NSW – Aboriginal Pathways program.