Could the biggest fight of Robert Whittaker’s life come close to home?
Nothing is definite, but UFC officials are hoping Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC), the interim middleweight champion, will meet recently crowned undisputed titleholder Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) at UFC 221.
The event, UFC 221, marks the organization’s debut in the state of Western Australia – with Perth Arena in the capital city of Perth playing host to a rare pay-per-view card outside of North America.
No main event has been announced for the card, but Whittaker, a 26-year-old New Zealand native who fights out of Australia, could be a major draw in the new market.
“No news yet,” Dave Shaw, the UFC’s vice president of international content, told MMAjunkie following this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 121 event in Sydney. “I think, as you guys know, the X factor right now is how Georges is doing.”
St-Pierre, who submitted Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) via third-round rear-naked choke earlier this month in UFC 217’s PPV headliner, told reporters after the event that he suffered a neck injury in the fight and isn’t sure when he’ll return.
“Listen, bottom line is that we want to have Robbie fight in Perth,” Shaw said of Whittaker. “The stars are sort of aligning for that event, having a pay-per-view there.
” … We want to blow it out of the water and make it a very significant event and make a real impact – not only for Western Australians but for Australian fans all over the country.”
Following UFC 217, UFC President Dana White said “Bobby Knuckles,” who’s No. 2 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, is first up for No. 1-ranked St-Pierre, a former longtime welterweight titleholder who returned from a four-year layoff to beat Bisping. But like White, Shaw isn’t sure of St-Pierre’s recovery time table from the grueling bout.
“It’s probably going to come down to Georges,” Shaw said. “Three months for anybody is a quick turnaround, so if we an line up that fight, that’d be amazing. But there’s no real update at this point.”
The UFC rarely hosts PPV cards outside of North America due to the time difference. To capitalize on the lucrative U.S. and Canadian PPV markets, the UFC always broadcasts PPV events in Saturday prime time – with a main-card kickoff at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT). For Perth, which is 13 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone, that means UFC 221 will start locally on Sunday morning.
Shaw, though, doesn’t expect it to be a problem.
“That’s just the name of the game if we’re going to be in the territory,” he said.view original article >>