UFC 225 featured three Australians and many more Aussies are set to compete in the UFC in the coming weeks. So, when will the promotion return to Australia?
With Whittaker breaking his hand and being involved in a grueling fight, he is unlikely to fight anytime soon. But this won’t prevent the UFC coming to Australia this year says UFC president Dana White.
“We love Australia. We will be back in Australia with or without (Whittaker),” White said at the UFC 225 post-fight press conference.
“If you look at the event we did for the first time up there (in Perth), Whittaker ended up falling out and we made another main event with Rockhold and Yoel and look how amazing the event did. The event was a huge success and every time we go to Australia the fans are incredible, the fights are always good for some reason and that place is just an absolute home run for us.”
This will be music to the ears of Aussie fight fans, but where exactly the card may be is still up for debate.
“We will be back in Australia this year, I don’t know where though,” White continued.
With the most recent two events taking place in Sydney and Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane are probably the most likely candidates. Although Adelaide and the Gold Coast could also be in the running, with both cities having held UFC events in the past.
When White was asked by reporters what is next for UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, White said time would have to play out before anything could be considered.
“This kid can’t catch a break you know,” White said of Whittaker.
“He injured his knee, staph infection, now he broke his hand and he’s so talented and he’s so tough and he’s so good and he’s our first champion from Australia which is incredible. He’s just had a real run of bad luck. We’re going to have to wait and see how long it’s going to take him to get healthy before we talk about what’s next.”
It is now understood that Whittaker broke his thumb in the first round in his fight with Yoel Romero. After injuring his knee in the first fight with the Cuban and suffering a string of ailments that kept him from competing at UFC 221, White is not wrong in his assessment that Whittaker had been very unfortunate.
Another person who could potentially be in line to headline the next card in Australia would be Tai Tuivasa. Tuivasa had a back and forth fight with former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski in a fight that went the distance – a first for Tuivasa who has won all his previous fights by first-round knockout.
“I had Tai winning that fight,” White said of Tuivasa’s fight.
“Tai looked great. He was in a war tonight against a really crafty veteran that did not want to get beat tonight. Those are the types of guys that you have to fight when you are a young up and coming guy like him to get better and to get the experience under your belt.”