Celtic Warrior Whiteford discovered fighting spirit beating bullies as a kid

They say of Rob Whiteford that he has ‘a chin of granite, and hits like a train’.

What you won’t have heard from him thus far in his brief UFC career is that he came from a broken home and was placed in a children’s boarding house at the age of 6. His mother couldn’t cope with three children and little Robert was the one farmed out, to a large dwelling in Edinburgh, overrun with boisterous juveniles.

It didn’t take him long to learn that it was a tough world. He was bullied, but he stood up for himself, and defended others in an environment which felt like William Golding’s ‘Lord of The Flies’. There was a pecking order, and Whiteford never took a backward step against the bigger, more aggressive kids.      

Whiteford competed as a judoka to a very high level, from the age of 18, and should have progressed even further. "I never really put myself forward," he told me. "I wasn’t that kind of person. I didn’t have the confidence. It has come in my later years."

“She’s dangerous. A lot of the girls like fighting, or the idea of fighting, but when she fights, she’s like a boy in a girls’ body. She broke one of my teeth in half – she kneed me in the mouth as I shot in for a takedown in training. She’s promised me that when she has the money, she’ll pay for the dentistry to get it fixed," he laughed.

It was a hostile environment. If you didn’t stick up for yourself, you were in the s***. I had to stand up for myself; I didn’t have a choice.

“I’ve had eight weeks training, I’ve spent time at American Top Team and I can’t wait to get in there. It’s great to be on a sold-out card on one of the biggest events of the year. Sean Shelby has done a great job with this match-up and there will be fireworks. He come aggressive and let’s just say I’m coming to be more aggressive,” he says.    

Take a good look at Rob Whiteford. A ‘Braveheart’ in the real tradition of Celtic warriors.

I was the first one involved when anyone was being bullied, once I was big enough. By the time I was one of the oldest, I’d wiped out the culture of bullying.