ROBERT Whittaker could fight for the UFC middleweight title in front of more than 50,000 screaming Australians — the same scenario that saw Brisbane boxer Jeff Horn upset megastar Manny Pacquiao.
Speaking in Las Vegas overnight, UFC officials revealed they are considering a range of options for what now shapes as an Ashes blockbuster between Whittaker, the new interim titleholder, and regular champ, outspoken Englishmen Michael Bisping.
Apart from a hyped Australian showdown in the first quarter of 2018, other options include New York’s famed Madison Square Garden in November or a December blockbuster back here in the fight capital of the world.
UFC Australia boss Joe Carr confirmed his organisation was already considering an Australian Pay-Per-View for early next year, with Perth and Melbourne the early contenders.
While Western Australia recently overturned its outdated Octagon ban, Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium is also in the mix given it was the venue where 56,000 watched UFC megastar Ronda Rousey dethroned by Holly Holm in 2015.
Other potential event options include UFC 219, which is scheduled for Las Vegas on December 30. Another is UFC 217, to be held at Madison Square Garden, New York on November 4.
However speaking after the Romero win, Whittaker suggested it was unlikely he would be ready to return to the Octagon by early November.
While Sydney will also host an event on November 19, it will be a Fight Night card, leaving the likely headliners to be cult heavyweight Mark Hunt or, potentially, rising female featherweight Megan Anderson.
Asked if he supported a world title fight on Australian soil, Whittaker said: “Of course, mate. Who doesn’t like fighting at home.
“Having it in your own backyard would be great for me. Great for all my supporters.
“I’d love to bring the fight back home to Australia.”
Yet given the Sydneysider seriously injured his left knee in the first round, and Bisping is himself sidelined with injury, any potential fight date at this early stage remains clouded.
Quizzed on Bisping storming the Octagon after he claimed the UFC interim strap on Saturday night, Whittaker shrugged: “Michael Bisping is Michael Bisping.
“I respect him as the champion, I really do. Even though he’s injured and on the bench. That’s why there’s an interim champion.
“And we’re going to touch gloves now. It’s fate.
“And when we do, there is going to be no mercy.”