MMA stocks skyrocketing in Australia

With two Australians fighting for UFC world titles next month, the stocks of mixed martial arts in this country have never been higher.

Interest in mixed martial arts in Australia is skyrocketing according to Robert Whittaker, one of two Aussies preparing to fight for a UFC world title next month.

With middleweight world champion Michael Bisping unable to defend his title due to injury, Sydneysider Whittaker will fight Cuban Yoel Romero in Las Vegas on July 9 (AEST) for the interim title.

Three weeks later Queenslander Megan Anderson will become the first Australian woman to fight for a UFC title, when she faces Brazilian Cris "Cyborg" Justino for the vacant featherweight crown in Anaheim, California on July 30 (AEST).

MMA has at times struggled for mainstream recognition in Australia, but the UFC brand has developed into a global combat sports juggernaut.

The emergence of top level Australian fighters plus some big local promotions, most notably the Ronda-Rousey-Holly Holm card in Melbourne in 2015, have helped raise the profile.

"MMA has definitely changed since I started," Whittaker told AAP.

"There was a lot of dudes that were fighting well before me and they will tell you the same thing, the sport has definitely grown.

"It's great for the sport itself and for the athlete, because as the sport grows and the athlete gets more looks and attention, they can see that it's more of an elite level sport than what it was back in the past.

"The brand of MMA in Australia is skyrocketing and I'm so happy to be a part of it.

"It's great Megan Anderson is getting a shot, it's great that I'm able to do what I can for the sport as well and its a good time for MMA in Australia."

No.1 ranked Romero is on an eight-fight winning streak, while No.3 Whittaker has reeled off seven straight victories.

"I'm excited for the interim title, but I'm excited to fight Yoel Romero, the No1 contender," Whittaker said.

"Such a great name with such great experience, I can't wait to get in there.

"He's competed at the highest level for a long time against fighters of the highest level so he's accustomed to high-pressure situations."

Romero is a former freestyle wrestling world champion and Olympic silver medallist.

"I definitely am more comfortable standing and that's where I'm going to win this fight, is on my feet," Whittaker said.

Source AAP

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