Rob Whittaker moves closer to GC2018
He’s the UFC interim middleweight champion set for a possible super fight with MMA legend Georges St Pierre, but Australia's Robert Whittaker also just moved a step closer to competing at GC2018.
Whittaker claimed the national 97kg Australian wrestling selection title in Melbourne at the weekend, with Wrestling Australia set to announce the team to compete on the Gold Coast in the coming weeks.
While he is one of the most feared fighters on the planet in the octagon, the 26-year-old believes wrestling is as tough as it gets.
“Honest to god I believe that wrestling is the hardest sport known to man,” Whittaker told GC2018.com.
“It takes you to a dark place and the ones that do excel at it go to that dark place, move through it and embrace it.
“The transition from MMA to wrestling is quite simple, because I don’t try to mix them. I don’t blur the lines, when I wrestle, I wrestle Olympic freestyle, when I’m in my stance, and I’m wearing my boots, that is what I’m doing.
“When I do MMA and I compete in the UFC, it is a different sport altogether. I think I give both sports the respect they deserve.
“I love the technical aspect of wrestling, the fact you can get in there and train day in and day out and then on the mat when you pull it off, it takes no effort, it is smooth like water, it is a great feeling.
“All techniques can be crossed over, it just depends on the calibre of wrestler you are. Look at [Daniel] Cormier, he’s doing things in there that no one else can do.
“My aspiration is always to get to a high level and to do my best.”
There were 12 winners across the 12 contested weight divisions but Australia are only eligible to send a maximum of eight athletes to the Games.
It means selectors will have to make some tough decisions to try to pick the wrestlers most likely to medal at GC2018.