Morning Report: Robert Whittaker still cordial with Darren Till but declares, ‘I have no friends in the middleweight division’

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It sounds like the fun may be over between Robert Whittaker and Darren Till.

Next month, Whittaker and Till face each other in the main event of the UFC’s final event on ‘Fight Island.’ Aside from being a pivotal middleweight clash that could determine the next title challenger, the bout is also notable for the pre-fight build up. During the early days of the coronavirus lockdown, Whittaker and Till engaged in a non-traditional “war of words” swapping memes over social media and generally having a laugh with one another about the possibility of fighting. Then the UFC came calling to make that a reality, and with the bout only a month away, the frivolity seems to be winding down.

Speaking with Submission Radio over the weekend, the former middleweight champion says that though he still has no ill will towards Till, with Fight Week in sight, things are getting a bit more serious.

“Honestly, it’s the same as it’s always been,” Whittaker said. “It’s cool how it’s a different approach, but I’m not really thinking about whether Darren’s a cool guy or not. Before the fight was lined up, it was cool to just josh back and forth, have a bit of a laugh at it, and try to make some interest for the fight, but once we kinda knew we were fighting, I don’t really care what sort of person he is. It’s one of those things where all I’m focusing on now is crushing him.

“For one, let me just say, I have no friends in the middleweight division. (Laughs). I can’t be friends with anybody I could be fighting, so let’s just clear that up. And two, mate, we’re in the fight game. It’s cool to be lined up with a guy that isn’t acting like a Gronk, but at the end of the day, he’s coming to take what’s mine and I’m coming to take what’s his. That’s the game we’re in. That’s the fight game, that’s the fight world.”

Till, meanwhile, has seemingly been less concerned with Whittaker and instead has been spending his internet time going in on Mike Perry and having a wonderful time face-swapping himself on Photoshop. Till even recently said that he hopes he faces “the worst” Robert Whittaker. But Bobby Knuckles isn’t buying all of that. He thinks Till is coming just as hard as he is.

“The thing is, we’re just cool,” Whittaker said. “We’re cool. He’s doing his thing, I’m doing mine. We have a bit of fun but we’re both respectful. Don’t get us wrong though, the weeks are getting closer and our sights are set on each other’s faces. It’s war time. I’m ready for the fight of my life and I’m gonna bring the fight of his life.”

If Whittaker does bring the fight of his life and gets his hand raised, that would then put the former middleweight champion right back in the title mix. But that’s something Whittaker says he isn’t even thinking about right now. There’s time for that later.

“I haven’t even thought about it,” Whittaker said. “Honestly, I haven’t even thought about it. I’m just enjoying the ride. Like I said, I’m just a ranker now. I’m in there, I’m looking to fight Darren Till, beat him, and worry about the next step after.”