Robert Whittaker UFC

UFC champ Robert Whittaker details health, ready to ‘punch it out’ with Romero-Rockhold in unifier

Published On February 2, 2018 | MMA News
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UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is back on his feet and already looking ahead to a title unification bout with the winner of the UFC 221 main event between Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold.

Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) originally was booked to put his title up for grabs against Rockhold at UFC 221, which takes place Feb. 10 at Perth Arena in Perth, Western Australia. He was forced to withdraw from the fight, though, after a series of physical and health issues turned his situation grim.

UFC President Dana White said “The Reaper” was dealing with a mistreated staph infection in his stomach, but according to Whittaker, that was just a fraction of what sidelined him. Whittaker made his first public appearance since his UFC 221 at a public workout for the event today in Sydney. He opened up about what he’s been dealing with.

“Everyone knows I like to fight injured,” Whittaker said in a video captured by Submission Radio. “Half the fights I’ve taken, I’ve always been injured. Just before I got ill, I pulled my hamstring. We could work around it and we were doing things to compensate for it – we were working around it. But then I got a really bad infection, and the infection and the antibiotics just took it out of me.

“I was really struggling to recover and then right at the end of the infection, I got the chickenpox. That’s why I’ve got the scars all over my face. It was an absolute mess. If anyone’s had it, it’s just horrible.”

Whittaker said he was disappointed to have to pull out of his first scheduled title defense, especially because the show was built around showcasing him to the Australian fans. Nevertheless, Whittaker said the UFC came up with a solid replacement in booking Romero (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) vs. Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) for the interim 185-pound belt.

Although Whittaker already defeated Romero in his most recent bout at UFC 213 this past July, he said he would be happy to run it back if “The Soldier of God” emerges with the interim strap.

“When they offered this outcome to me, I was delighted,” Whittaker said. “The No. 1 and No. 2 contenders get to bash each other, and I was just like, ‘Yes, good. Please.’ As a fan of this sport, I would’ve paid to watch this fight. This is a fight I think people want to see, and I’m more than happy to bash Yoel again, or I’m more than happy to give it to Rockhold, as well. We’ll see.”

Whittaker certainly will be keeping a close eye on the UFC 221 main event, but he said his current focus is rehabilitating himself to 100 percent. Whittaker said he doesn’t know exactly when he’ll be ready to return to the octagon, but if recovery goes as planned, he said a summer title-unifier is likely.

“I’m just focused on recovering,” Whittaker said. “I’m gonna let Yoel and Rockhold punch it out a bit, but things are good and I’m looking for a big return mid-year. So let’s see what happens.”

 

This story UFC champ Robert Whittaker details health, ready to ‘punch it out’ with Romero-Rockhold in unifier first appeared on MMA Junkie.

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