Robert Whiteford claims ACB deal ended retirement thoughts

Written by Andreas Georgiou

Robert Whiteford admits a ‘phenomenal’ offer to headline Absolute Championship Berkut 47 helped squash lingering thoughts of retirement.

The poster boy for the upcoming October 1 card at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Whiteford makes his return to the cage to face Kevin Petshi in a 140lb catchweight bout.

After being released from his UFC contract in May – following back-to-back defeats – the Scotsman admitted he considered hanging up his gloves due to the financial insecurity attached to fighting outside the UFC.

Whiteford (12-4) explained: “When I left the UFC I was considering retiring, I wasn’t even sure if I would fight again.

“Some of the shows that were offering the money and stuff, it was making it more like I would never come back. One of the shows in Scotland offered me £600 to fight. I couldn’t believe the cheek of the guy trying to offer me that kind of money.”

It was a harsh reality check for the Scotsman, who had been a key component in the UFC packing 11,000 fans into the Hydro in July 2015.

Nonetheless, when ACB announced plans to bring a major MMA event back to Glasgow, it was an opportunity too good to refuse for Whiteford. He even claimed that his purse on October 1 will be higher than what he was making in the UFC.

“When ACB contacted me and said they were thinking about having a show in Scotland and the money they offered, I was gobsmacked. To offer me the kind of money they’ve offered me is phenomenal, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

“At the time I was just pissed off with how the whole UFC thing ended and me making a living again from fighting, I thought it wasn’t going to be possible. It’s more money than I made in the UFC, just that on its own is pretty unbelievable.”

It should be noted, the 33-year-old’s UFC salary is unknown as he never fought in a state – such as Nevada – where the athletic commission publically releases fight purses.

The chance to headline ACB 47: Braveheart was a massive one for “The Hammer” who believed he should have been higher up on the card when he last fought at the Hydro. So, with great money and the spotlight billing, Whitford truly believe he has ‘landed lucky’.

“It’s one of the biggest promotions in the world, number five I think. I’m the first Scottish guy to headline a [top] European promotion like this, so I’m super happy about it. I suppose, I just landed lucky. I’ve not landed lucky many times in my life but I think this time I’ve landed lucky, especially with them coming to Scotland.”

Most known as a Featherweight fighter, the American Top Team combatant admitted he contemplated the idea of dropping down the 135lbs due to his normal weight-cut being such a breeze.

However, Frenchman Petshi (9-2) – who has fought as low as 125lbs – apparently declined a fight at Featherweight. This prompted the fight’s catchweight stipulation which the Scot admitted he was less than enthused with.

“I’ve always toyed with the idea of making 135lbs,” said Whiteford. “The cuts I was making in the UFC towards 146lbs were easy for me.

“When I accepted the fight, he said he’s not going to accept the fight at 146, which pissed me off right away. My life’s been fucking miserable the past few weeks with this cut to 140lbs.”

Despite his struggle in the past to deal with grapplers and wrestlers in the UFC, Whiteford hopes to use his striking to negate Petshi’s ground game and prove he is better than his recent performances.

“He isn’t just coming to grapple, he has very dangerous striking. No doubt he’ll think about standing there and trading, but then I’ll f–king crack him one and he’ll try and take me down. I’m not daft. Hopefully, I’ll be the bigger man and I’ll be able to stop those takedowns better than some of these American wrestlers I’ve had to deal with.”

Whiteford isn’t trying to rehash old memories, with no interest in a reboot of that career-defining night last July, he calls for the ACB fans to create a ‘new atmosphere’ and immortalise the promotion’s debut British show.

“I’m sure they’ll be making a f–king hell of a noise in there as well. I’m not trying to replicate what the atmosphere was in the UFC event. It’s a new event, a new show and I’m looking forward to a new atmosphere.”

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