Robert Whittaker made the first comment about announcing the fight with Khamzat Chimaev

The UFC will debut in Saudi Arabia this summer, and it’s bringing a major middleweight headliner with it.

Former champion Robert Whittaker will take on Khamzat Chimaev in a five-round main event on June 22, UFC CEO Dana White announced Thursday.

White added the bout’s winner will earn a crack at title gold and announced the main card will air on ABC.

Other fights on the card include Sergei Pavlovich vs. Alexander Volkov, Kelvin Gastelum vs. Daniel Rodriguez, Volkan Oezdemir vs. Johnny Walker, Shara Magomedov vs. Ihor Potieria.

One person it didn’t shock was Robert Whittaker himself, who had just finished recording an episode of his MMArcade Podcast when the news broke.

Jumping straight back in to record another video and give his immediate reaction to the fight, “The Reaper” explained how this one came together and what his initial feelings on the matchup are.

“I do understand the task at hand,” Robert Whittaker said. “It’s going to be hard and I’m going to be grinding my a** off this camp and, yeah, I’m looking forward to it because it’s a good thing. After the last fight, I didn’t really have any injuries, the body is good, they offered me the fight, I fought four or five weeks ago at this point, mate, I’m ready.

“Just give me another one, I’m in a great headspace to take another hard fight and, yeah, I’m looking forward to it. Every hard fight pushes my skills to that next level and this gets me in line to get the belt back and that’s the goal isn’t it,” Whittaker continued. “I would have assumed UFC was going to hold me in the ranks for the Australia card in August, which is kind of what I was preparing for, but I’m happy. The UFC have given me this boon and this is my path to the title.”

Robert Whittaker Gives Initial Take On Khamzat Chimaev As Next Opponent

Also in his reaction video to the big news, Robert Whittaker gave his impression of Khamzat Chimaev as an opponent.

The undefeated Chechen-born star has loomed large over the middleweight division since his return to the weight class last October. He even appeared to be on track to being lined up for a shot at the 185-pound title until his fight with Kamaru Usman at UFC 294 came right down to the wire.

With Robert Whittaker in search of another shot at reclaiming the gold, arguably the best way to put himself at the forefront of the line is to hand Chimaev his first loss.

The former champion said that despite the persona that his opponent likes to play up to, he’s expecting a good, fair contest against a fellow member of the middleweight elite.

“I understand he’s a hard fighter, he likes to grapple a lot, he uses his reach and range to good effectiveness, he’s got knockout power but honestly, he likes to play the villain against these guys, against his opponents but he’s an honourable fighter.

“We’re going to get in there and we’re going to have an honest fight, we’re both going to leave it there. He’s not a quitter, I’m not a quitter, so I look forward to really making history in Saudi Arabia.”           

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