Melbourne, Australia Robert Whittaker says he’s in the best shape of his career for his UFC middleweight world title defence against Israel Adesanya.

Whittaker, a New Zealand-born Australian, and New Zealand-based, Nigerian-born interim champion Adesanya, meet in a much-anticipated 185-pound unification bout which headlines UFC 243 at Melbourne’s Docklands Stadium.

It will be Whittaker’s first fight in Australia in almost three years and the first UFC world title defence by an Australian.

“It’s a milestone for my career, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Whittaker said. “I’m given the moment to get out there defend my title and I’m just making history.”

Sunday’s lineup also features a fight between two world-ranked lightweights, American Al Iaquinta and New Zealand’s Dan Hooker. Hooker is the most established Kiwi in the UFC ranks with 12 fights for the organisation over the last five years.

Hooker fought in both UFC Fight Nights in Auckland in 2014 and 2017, but New Zealand has yet to host one of UFC’s pay-for-view shows.

Whittaker is currently rated ninth and Adesanya 14th in the pound-for-pound ratings.

“You look at the winner of this fight in the top five pound-for-pound in the world,” UFC chief Dana White said.

When asked what he planned for the next few days, Whittaker replied: ``I’m going to make the weight on Saturday. I’m going to fight on Sunday, and I’m going to go back to my kids on Monday.”