UFC fighter takes up TV show coaching gig

Warrior: UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is one of the head coaches on the new season of television show and competition The Ultimate Fighter. Picture: Darrian Traynor
Warrior: UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is one of the head coaches on the new season of television show and competition The Ultimate Fighter. Picture: Darrian Traynor

Ultimate Fighting Champion Robert Whittaker has already conquered the cage and now he has taken on the small screen.

The Mount Annan resident is a head coach on the new season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Now in its 28th season, the hit reality mixed martial arts tournament series – which the UFC middleweight champion won in 2012 – is airing on Network Ten’s channel One on Thursday nights.

The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters follows eight men and eight women as they compete for a prized contract with the UFC. Middleweight champion Kelvin Gastelum is the other coach.

Whittaker told the Advertiser this season was the “right time” to be a coach on the show.

“It was hard work to coach eight different people and manage their different fighting styles,” the father of three said.

“We only had a small amount of time, about five weeks, to help the fighters and work on their technique.

“I worked on their mental strength more than their physical strength.”

The season will culminate in the live broadcast of the finale of The Ultimate Fighter, with the winners of the men’s heavyweight and women’s flyweight tournaments crowned on December 1st (Australian time) at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas.

“I am curious to see how the finale will go,” Whittaker said.

The fighter, who trains at Smeaton Grange’s Gracie Jiu Jitsu, said he had learnt a lot being a coach on the show.

“I probably learnt more than the contestants did,” Whittaker said. “I learnt different coaching techniques, I learnt about myself and I learnt a lot more about having passion for the sport.”

Whittaker’s last bout saw the fighter defeat Yoel Romero in June this year. He beat the Cuban in another bout during UFC 213 in July last year. Whittaker was forced to withdraw from a fight earlier this year against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 due to illness.

For his next bout, the fighter will be pushing to defend his middleweight title in Australia.

“I don’t mind where it will be in Australia but I would like it to be in Sydney,” Whittaker said. “I live here, it is my home and I want to defend my title on my home ground.”