Robert Whittaker bulldozes Ikram Aliskerov on UFC’s Saudi Arabia debut

Robert Whittaker secured an emphatic win against Ikram Aliskerov on Saturday, winning their UFC main event in Saudi Arabia via first-round knockout.

Whittaker, a former middleweight champion, was initially due to face rising contender Khamzat Chimaev on Saturday (22 June), but the latter withdrew due to illness.

In stepped the unranked Aliskerov – whose only prior loss as a professional came against Chimaev – to save the main event of the UFC’s debut in Saudi Arabia.

And Whittaker, 33, made short work of the Russian, 31, finishing him within two minutes in Riyadh.

The Australian rocked Aliskerov with an overhand right, before following up with jabs and a grazing head kick. Then came an uppercut against the fence, sealing a second straight win for Whittaker.

The former champion suffered a shock loss to Dricus Du Plessis in July, but he has now bounced back with victories over Paulo Costa and Aliskerov. Meanwhile, Du Plessis went on to win the title in January.

Alongside Whittaker’s loss to Du Plessis, the Australian’s only defeats in the last 10 years have come against Israel Adesanya.

Adesanya knocked out Whittaker to win the middleweight belt in 2019, which he retained against the “Reaper” in a close rematch in 2022.

Adesanya later lost the title, regained it, then lost it again. The Nigerian-born New Zealander is due to challenge Du Plessis for the belt in Australia this August.