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Robert Whittaker to face Ikram Aliskerov on maiden card in Saudi Arabia


Robert Whittaker will attempt to ram home his credentials as the next title challenger in the middleweight division when he faces Ikram Aliskerov at the maiden UFC event in Saudi Arabia. 

‘The Reaper’ was initially scheduled to meet imposing unbeaten star Khamzat Chimaev in a headline bout on Sunday, June 23 (AEST) with the winner potentially in the mix to be the number one contender for the belt currently held by Dricus du Plessis. 

However, Chimaev has been forced to withdraw at late notice, leaving Whittaker no choice but to pivot to a clash with Aliskerov, a Dagestani fighter riding a seven-fight win streak. 

Despite what was heralded as an action-packed matchup, Whittaker will no longer take on Chimaev, with the Russian fighter forced to miss the match-up due to illness. 

In a video uploaded to social media Friday, UFC President Dana White announced Chimaev would miss the fight, saying that he was “violently ill”. 

Whittaker also seemed to react to the news of Chimaev being replaced by Aliskerov, posting a cryptic message saying “Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime,” to X, formerly Twitter. 

Robert Whittaker’s next opponent has been revealed to be Ikram Aliskerov, after his initial bout against Khamzat Chimaev was cancelled. 

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Amidst the scramble for potential bouts in Perth, Whittaker was viewed as an ideal candidate to be on the card following his impressive win over Paulo Costa last month. 

However, the idea he would finally feature on a slate in Western Australia – a place where he has had two fights cancelled in the past – was quickly snuffed out with the initial announcement of his meeting with Chimaev. 

“We’ll be going to Saudi Arabia for our first fight in the Kingdom with a Fight Night,” White said on social media. 

“The main event will be former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker versus 13-0 Khamzat Chimaev to see who will be the number one contender for the UFC middleweight championship.”

Currently, Whittaker is sat behind Sean Strickland and Israel Adesanya as the third-ranked contender in the division. 

Before Whittaker and Aliskerov clash in a title eliminator, there will also be plenty of other intriguing bouts to enjoy. 

In the co-main event, Sergei Pavlovich and Alexander Volkov will go toe-to-toe with Pavlovich hoping to bounce back to winning ways after he brutally lost an interim title fight to Tom Aspinall at UFC 295. 

Elsewhere, Kelvin Gastelum and Daniel Rodriguez will meet in a welterweight match-up, while Johnny Walker will face Volkan Oezdemir. 

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