Skip to content

Whittaker KOs Aliskerov in under 2 minutes at UFC Saudi Arabia

Chris Unger / UFC / Getty

Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker showed there are levels to the fight game by brutally finishing top prospect Ikram Aliskerov.

Whittaker knocked out Aliskerov at the 1:49 mark of the first round in the UFC Saudi Arabia main event Saturday at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh.

Whittaker landed a right hand that put Aliskerov on wobbly legs. Whittaker pressed the action and dropped Aliskerov with a devastating uppercut before landing a few more punches against the fence, forcing referee Marc Goddard to intervene.

"I told everybody I'm the boogeyman, I'm the best in the world, and I'm the most dangerous matchup for anyone in the division," Whittaker said in his postfight interview.

Whittaker was originally scheduled to headline the UFC's inaugural event in Saudi Arabia against Khamzat Chimaev, but Chimaev pulled out of the highly anticipated matchup last week due to an illness. Aliskerov agreed to step in and fight Whittaker on nine days' notice. At the time, Aliskerov was scheduled to fight the unranked Antonio Trocoli at the June 15 Fight Night event in Las Vegas.

"I'll take a fight anywhere, anytime," said Whittaker, who risked his No. 3 ranking against an unranked opponent. "I proved it tonight, and I'll prove it again. I'll fight anyone."

Whittaker's knockout of Aliskerov marked his first stoppage win since he knocked out Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in April 2017. The Australian had gone the distance in seven consecutive victories.

Whittaker said he believes his experience carried him to victory against Aliskerov.

"I've been in this position a hundred times," Whittaker said. "I understand what I'm doing. I told you I was gonna be the hunter, and that's exactly what I did."

Whittaker is riding a two-fight winning streak and is 3-1 in his last four Octagon appearances. Saturday's victory likely sets up a No. 1 contender bout - or, with a bit of luck and good timing, a title shot. Champion Dricus Du Plessis is scheduled to defend the belt against former champ Israel Adesanya at UFC 305 on Aug. 17 in Perth, Australia. Whittaker, 33, said he'd be open to serving as a backup for that fight.

Aliskerov suffered the first loss of his UFC career and just his second defeat overall. The 31-year-old Russian is 2-1 in the promotion after debuting in May 2023.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox