'I'm a champion, with or without the belt' - Whittaker after his UFC win

By Micah Thompson
Photo/ESPN

Māori UFC fighter Robert Whittaker has won his fight against English opponent Darren Till in a unanimous decision in the United Arab Emirates today.

Whittaker who described the result as a 'successful work trip' was making his return to the octagon after an almost 10-month break from the sport. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

BOBBY KNUCKLES IS BACK! 🇦🇺 It's a UD for @RobWhittakerMMA! #UFCFightIsland #InAbuDhabi @VisitAbuDhabi

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The first four rounds were evenly fought until the final round where Whittaker used his skills as the former middleweight champion to achieve multiple takedowns of Till and take the round and fight.

The two fighters showed mutual respect for each before, during and post-fight. 

Although showing his battle scars, Whittaker was all smiles in the post-fight interview saying that this was one of his most technical striking fights to date, calling it a "chess match."

Whittaker said he was proud of the way the close battle ended.

"I'm just happy we got the result that we came here for, I'm happy that the work trip was successful, I'm happy that I got to showcase more of my skillset," he said.

"I understood that it was a very close fight. I think the second round was definitely mine, third round, fourth round could have gone either way, but I think I showed my championship level mentality and experience in that last round. Especially, when it was so close in the hands and the standup game and then to finish it off taking him down was I think I big boon in the scorecards for me."

Coming out of this fight Whittaker, who lost his middleweight title to Israel Adesanya in October, remains convinced he is still a champion.

"I'm a champion, without the belt, with the belt, it doesn't matter. It is what it is and I'm looking forward to getting back to work and just seeing how the next fight goes."