Almost everybody has a daily grind that they endure. For some, it’s a daily gym routine. For others, it can be waking up early to make a commute to work. And for some, it can even be their typical work schedule. Before he won The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes reality series, Robert Whittaker had his own daily grind.

“Before I landed a contract, I had to work a full-time job with Rail Corp in Sydney,” Whittaker explained in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “It was hard. I mean, the job itself wasn’t so hard at times [laughs], but it wasn’t like I was doing a desk job. I would have to wake up early to go to work, come home, try and eat, clean up and then head off to training for at least four hours. I would only get around five to six hours sleep a night.”

That dedication to honing his craft certainly paid off. Before his addition for the TUF cast, Whittaker was considered one of Australia’s best welterweights on the local scene and attributed his success to constantly training with the best people that he could be around.

Whittaker (L) looks for a submission (Louie Abigail/Sherdog)

For his second official fight in the UFC, Whittaker is winding up his camp at Tristar in Montreal. It’s a long way from the suburbs of Sydney, but following his successful formula of training with the best made sense for what is set to be the biggest fight yet in his career.

“The last half of my camp is when I am going to put myself right in there,” he admitted. “I am going to be dedicated to my training and leaving all my distractions at home. That’s the good thing about going over [to Montreal]—there are limited distractions for me.

“Just about anything can be a distraction in the lead-up to the fight, whether it’s friends, family or even your pet dog. They might not seem like it at the time, but they end up taking your mind off the most important thing. I want to go into this with all of my focus on the fight and the fight alone.”

There are so many elite camps spread across North America, and some that are certainly closer to Las Vegas, where UFC 160 takes place, but there was a key to why Whittaker decided that Tristar was the best place to finish his camp.

Whittaker (top) delivers punishment (Louie Abigail/Sherdog)

“I have always admired the fighters that train there and admired their fight style a lot,” he explained. “It’s always good to leave your comfort zone a bit so that you can develop as a fighter. I have had a great camp [in Australia], but to top it all off I want to experience what makes [the fighters out of Tristar] champions.”

In front of Whittaker stands a tough test. If there is one area that tends to be a weakness for all Australian fighters, it is the wrestling aspect of MMA. Whittaker’s opponent, Colton Smith, counts wrestling among his strengths, and he certainly showed that in his TUF 16 Finale fight. Most will agree that a strong wrestling base is the key to success in MMA, but being unpredictable in a fight is another key that can unlock a wide array of doors.

“He is going to try and grapple, and that is the only way he can beat me,” Whittaker said. “We all know what his game is going to be, but he doesn’t know what mine will be. I have worked all aspects of my training and have just worked on keeping my strengths strong and finding that balance of working on weaknesses too. I think that people will be very surprised with what happens in there.”

At UFC 160, we will see who the better Ultimate Fighter series winner is.

Whittaker and Smith’s respective seasons were televised at around about the same time, and whilst Smith gained a lot of notoriety for dismantling series favorite Mike Ricci with his wrestling, Whittaker plans to show that he can hold his own on the mat. He also plans to demonstrate just what he is capable of inside the cage. Once and for all, though, he plans to show everybody that TUF Smashes was the better edition of the reality series, and that he is the true Ultimate Fighter.

Robert would like to thank Fear The Fighter, Booster Fight Gear, MMA Apparel and Body Science (BSC). Follow him on Twitter: @RJWhittaker1990

Top Photo: Robert Whittaker (L) has his hand raised in victory (Louie Abigail/Sherdog)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.