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Whittaker eyeing title after big UFC win

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/11/2016 Michael Ramsey

New Zealand-born Robert Whittaker wants a shot at the UFC middleweight title after claiming a powerhouse win over American Derek Brunson in Melbourne.

Australian Whittaker was named the winner by technical knockout after just four minutes in the first round of Sunday's main event at Rod Laver Arena.

The much-anticipated bout proved to be a short-lived slugfest with not much in the way of grappling as both men exchanged heavy blows.

Brunson was relentless in chasing Whittaker at the start of the fight but appeared unsteady on his feet and left his guard open, allowing Auckland-born Whittaker to capitalise with left and right hooks.

The fight was brought to a stop after four minutes when Whittaker floored Brunson with a brutal kick and landed a flurry of punches to his head.

Whittaker (18-4) has now won five straight bouts and has set his sights on the middleweight title, held by British fighter Michael Bisping, who pulled out of a fight with Whittaker last November.

Bisping is expected to defend his belt against Cuban fighter Yoel Romero next year and Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo Souza and Chris Weidman remain in the mix.

Whittaker says he's good enough to take on any of the top contenders and is willing to fight anywhere.

"I'm ready for my shot," Whittaker said.

"This is my run and I want to continue it. I want to fight these top five dudes and eventually go for the belt.

"I'll fight whoever is in front of me. I don't think I've hit my prime or anywhere near it."

Brunson admitted he had been caught up in the excitement of fighting in the main event and had not handled Whittaker well.

"I had him hurt. I could have really slowed it down," he said.

"I didn't make smart decisions."

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