Robert Whittaker raved about Marvin Vettori’s fake handshake: ‘It was just dirty’

Robert Whittaker raved about Marvin Vettori’s fake handshake: ‘It was just dirty’

Robert Whittaker took issue with Marvin Vettori’s look-down etiquette.

Prior to their co-main event at UFC Paris, Whittaker and Vettori had a memorable showdown at the ceremonial weigh-ins last Friday. When Whittaker walked up to Vettori for a handshake, it looked like Vettori would reciprocate, but instead he pulled his hand back to taunt Whittaker.

Whittaker, the No. 2 middleweight in the Global MMA Fighting Rankings, defeated Vettori by unanimous decision on Saturday. But the incident definitely stuck in his mind.

“Dude, it was dirty,” Whittaker said when asked about the fake in MMA time on Wednesday. “Absolutely dirty. He was dirty. It was such a dirty thing to do, and I understand where he’s coming from, he just wants to mess with my head a little bit, because we had been so friendly up until then. I was just trying to throw anything in the wind to try to ruffle the feathers. We knew it was coming. The coaches knew this was coming. But I mean it didn’t bother me, it bothered me. It really screwed me over.

“It’s one thing not to shake hands, I understand. Keep your hand to yourself, you do it, I will. It’s another thing to trick me by reaching out and sucking me off at the last minute. You don’t do that. I don’t know, it seems that he broke a solemn rule, you know?

Overall, Whittaker was amused by Vettori’s joke, though mostly because the Italian middleweight was dead serious in his approach.

“I was laughing because it was like in the 90s boxer, he got serious and said, ‘I’m going to beat the crap out of you,’” Whittaker said. “It just made me laugh. … I couldn’t [say anything], I was just laughing. That’s why I smiled. He was just smiling, I found it funny.

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“I have all these conversations, I’m a big thinker. And I’m just thinking, ‘We’re going to fight tomorrow. See you there.'”

Whittaker was dominant on fight night, overcoming a slow opening round to dominate the action in rounds 2 and 3. By the end of the contest, Vettori was bruised and battered.

It was another impressive performance from “The Reaper,” who has lost just twice at 185 pounds, both in title fights against reigning UFC champion Israel Adesanya.

Whittaker insists his aggressive approach had little to do with Vettori’s pre-fight antics or any need to prove anything after losing to Adesanya at UFC 271 last February.

“Not at all,” Whittaker said. “I knew what he was going to do. I think my actions did [Vettori] Worry, he ruffled his feathers in any case. He wanted a reaction from me, but I know what I’m about to do. I know what I am.

“We can be friendly, we can even be friends, not really friends, but we can be really cool. We can be professionals. Yes, we can do the dance, but when the door closes, when they put us in the octagon, I change. The face of the game is on. I’m fighting now.”

When asked if Vettori still has the potential to be a future champion, Whittaker was complimentary. But he made sure to mention one important caveat.

“Definitely not while I’m around,” Whittaker said. But I think there is something [and] why he’s won so many of his fights, he doesn’t have any dropouts in him. That will take a boy very, very far. You’ve seen it in a lot of his fights where he fights a guy who’s flashier, more skilled and more technical, but he doesn’t give up, and then his opponent eventually does. It’s a dangerous trait to have, especially someone who is young enough like him. To keep learning and to keep growing.

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“I’m not going to take anything away from him. I still don’t think he beats me, definitely not now, but I think he still has a lot of potential.”

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About the Author: Pierre Cohen

A person who has expertise in politics and writes articles to fill his spare time as a hobby.