Robert Whittaker's Pre-fight Training And Diet

The diet and training that could help Robert Whittaker get back to the top

Robert Whittaker's epic comeback continues this weekend. Here's the training and diet that have helped resurrect The Reaper's career

IT TAKES A RARE warrior to tumble from their perch at the top, doubts swirling around their killer instinct, only to defy expectations and resurrect their career. Enter Robert ‘Bobby Knuckles’ Whittaker, poised once more to make a run at the middleweight crown.

Whittaker’s career was a speeding train headed for the status of legend, before being abruptly derailed by a couple of setbacks against champions like Israel Adesanya and Dricus Du Plessis. Yet as whispers grew louder among pundits that Whittaker’s career might be reaching an end, Australia’s UFC ‘O.G’ did what he’s always done – silenced the nay-sayers with a powerful return to form. 

Comebacks in the UFC are a daunting task fraught with challenges. Beyond the physical demands of elite-level competition, fighters must navigate a landscape of evolving contenders and strategic adaptations. While Whittaker didn’t necessarily step away from the fight game, he’s had to make some serious readjustments after losing the middleweight crown. 

Who is Whittaker fighting at UFC Fight Night?

This weekend, Whittakers takes on a fresh new face. The UFC’s inaugural event in Saudi Arabia was originally set to be headlined by Whittaker and Khamzat Chimaev, however, last week UFC CEO Dana White announced that Chimaev was out. Enter unranked middleweight Ikram Aliskerov, who bravely stepped up on just a week’s notice to replace him. 

Instagram | @ikram_aliskerov

Whittaker, coming off a dominant unanimous decision victory over Paulo Costa at UFC 298 in February, is looking to extend his winning streak against the up-and-coming Aliskerov. Despite only two UFC appearances since earning his contract on Dana White’s Contender Series, Aliskerov has already made a mark with impressive knockout victories over Phil Hawes and Warlley Alves. As both fighters prepare to clash in the Octagon, anticipation mounts for a showdown that promises to be nothing short of electrifying.

What is Robert Whittaker’s pre-fight?

Ask any fighter how much they weigh outside of fight camp and chances are they’re at-least another 10 to 15 kilos heavier. They can afford to consume those extra calories, often building muscle, or in the process of recovering from a bout. Whittaker has previously commented on his ‘walking weight’, which sits around the 97 to 99 kilo mark. However, come weigh-in days, that comfy mass needs to be stripped back to a lean 83 kilos, at most. 

Whittaker’s diet is always going to be clean. A devout fan of food, who loves his Japanese and Italian, pre-fight Whittaker takes on a more hardcore approach, following the ‘everything in moderation’ rule. At the same time, he doubles down on a large portion of greens every day and avoids sugar and fast foods. When he needs to strip the weight back, Whittaker cleans up his diet and begins to cut out foods like bread, focusing on healthier carbs like potatoes and rice. The protein department also gets a brief overhaul, with Whittaker shifting to white meat and fish and increasing his grain intake. 

How does Robert Whittaker train before a fight

Men’s Health spoke with Whittaker and his team in 2021 and got the gym workout rundown the ‘Reaper’ follows, a program drawn up by exercise physiologist Justin Lang at Live Athletic in Sydney. According to Lang, the progressive program combines flexibility, gymnastics and barbell strength training, and aims to build unrestricted movement while inoculating his charge against injury. 

1/ Squat

In a squat rack, place a barbell across your traps. Push your hips back and lower until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Pause, then push back up. Whittaker will typically do 5 “build-up” sets before completing 3 “work” sets of 5 reps.

2/ Pistol squat

Balance on your right foot, your left leg extended in front of you. Drop into a deep squat, then drive back up to a standing position. Whittaker will typically do 4 sets of 3-5 reps on each leg.

3/ Nordic hamstring curl

Kneel on the floor and anchor your feet under a loaded barbell or have a partner pin your feet to the floor. Keeping your torso straight, slowly lower your body as close to the ground as possible. Whittaker will do 4 sets of 5 reps.

4/ Weighted dips

Grab a pair of parallel dip bars, elbows slightly bent. Keeping your head up, lower until your upper arms are at least parallel to the ground. Pause, then drive back up. Whittaker will typically do 4 sets of 5 reps with 30kg strapped to his weight belt.

5/ Back extensions

Place your legs on a bench or box and anchor your feet. Lower your upper body as far as you can then raise your torso until your body is straight. Pause, then slowly lower. Whittaker will do 4 sets of 10 reps holding a 20kg plate to his chest.

6/ Hollow rocks

Lie face-up on the floor, your arms extended above your head. Engage your core and raise your arms and legs so your body describes a bow shape. Keeping your core switched on, rock back and forth. Whittaker will do 4 sets of one-minute rocks

How Whittaker wins against Ikram Aliskerov

Even though it might not be the blockbuster all-out war we were promised if Whittaker had faced off with Khamzat Chimaev, one of the most frightening fighters in the sport may we might add, Aliskerov still poses a formidable challenge for the Aussie. Like many Russian UFC fighters, Aliskerov is relentless. 

Instagram | @robwhittakermma

Whittaker though, practically invented that style of fighting. He’s tenacious in his approach. Expect Whittaker to keep the fight entirely on his terms with strong striking and building constant KO pressure on a fighter who has never faced an opponent of this calibre. If Whittaker is any chance to push for the belt one last time, he can’t afford any hiccups this weekend.

Where to watch UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs Aliskerov?

Catch Whittakers fight bright and early on ESPN, Sunday, 23rd June, with the main card beginning at 5:00 am.


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