UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is recovering from surgery to repair a collapsed bowel after his withdrawal from UFC 234.
Whittaker (20-4 MMA, 11-2 UFC) was forced to pull out of his scheduled title defense against Kelvin Gastelum (16-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) just hours before Saturday’s event at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, was scheduled to begin.
The champion was rushed into “emergency surgery” to repair an abdominal issue after he started experiencing symptoms overnight. He was reportedly under the knife for more than three hours, and UFC President Dana White as well as Whittaker’s team claimed the situation could’ve become fatal had “The Reaper” fought.
Whittaker, who appears to be in relatively good spirits, confirmed as much in a video statement from his hospital bed (via Instagram):
“Let me say that I’m sorry to all my friends and family and fans that came out to watch me perform. But unfortunately I couldn’t be there. I tried my best to try and swing it. I was fighting the doctors all the way up until they said, ‘You have to get surgery or you’re going to lose part of your bowel.’ Or it could be potentially fatal. I had to look at my health first — I’m sorry, guys.”
“I’m sorry to Gastelum cause he came out here, prepped, and came a long way and I couldn’t give him a show.”
“You guys know what it takes to keep me from the octagon. So for you guys to be behind me and supporting me and sending me your love like that, it means a lot to me. It really does. And it makes it easier for me to try even harder next time, to get in there and to put my soul on bare and put on a good show for you guys.”
“I’ll be back better than ever. This is one obstacle that I’ve jumped. It’s not going to keep me down forever. I’m going to be back — better than ever.”
One thing Whittaker did not speak about during his statement was a potential timeline for his return to the octagon. Naturally he would like to return to action as soon as possible, but whether the four-to-six week timeline mentioned by UFC boss White is accurate or not, remains to be seen.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
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