Whittaker (23-6 MMA, 14-4 UFC) takes on Vettori (18-4-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) in Saturday’s co-main event at Accor Arena in Paris. The card streams on ESPN+.
The former middleweight champion is expecting a tough and gritty fight from Vettori, but thinks he has the edge over him in most areas.
“He wants to turn it into a dog fight,” Whittaker told reporters at Thursday’s UFC Fight Night 209 media day. “He wants to turn it into a barroom brawl – that’s his fight style: get up close, push up against the fence, box you up, take you down, wear you out. That’s what he does.
“I’m very different. I’m in, out, I hit hard, I hit fast. I’m technically better than him, I believe. I think I’m going to hit him too much. I think I’m going to be too much for him. I think he’s underestimating how good I am, how fast I am, how hard I hit, and I think that’ll come out on Saturday.”
In his media day interview, Vettori said he’s improving, but Whittaker is not. When asked to respond, Whittaker disagreed and says the evidence is in his recent performances.
“He’s wrong,” Whittaker said. “I think I am improving. I think there’s hard facts to prove that I am improving. I think the wins behind going up is hard evidence that I’m improving. I think the way that second fight with Adesanya went is hard evidence that I’m improving, so I think I’m getting better.
“I definitely think he’s gotten better, but like by how much? He’s gotten better at his style that’s rough and tumble, so to speak. It’s very hard to gauge, especially when his style relies so heavily on being able to outlast, take (more) damage than your opponent. How do you get better at taking shots? Not that that’s all he does, but I do think he’s gotten better. It would be crazy for him to not have gotten better.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 209.