Around this time last year, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, was in a “life-threatening” situation when staph infection spread to his stomach and started eating away at his organs.
Fast-forward to 2019 and “The Reaper” is once again dodging death, thanks to a “freak injury” that “could have been fatal.” That’s according to promotion president, Dana White, and now Whittaker’s management team is elaborating on social media.
“Last night at roughly 9pm, Rob began experiencing intense abdominal pains that were brought to the attention of UFC doctors. After several hours of observation he was admitted to the hospital at 3am. Rob is just out of surgery for a twisted and collapsed bowel in addition to an internal hernia of the intestine and will be recovering in the hospital for several days. Rob will want to speak to his fans directly when he can. Rob is devastated that today’s fight will not go ahead. Up until five minutes before going into surgery, Rob was insisting he would fight, but advice was that a blow to his stomach could be fatal. Rob will come back stronger and ready for what is to come. Thanks to the UFC, Kelvin and his team for your professionalism.”
As a result of his withdrawal, the promotion was forced to table Whittaker’s 185-pound title defense, previously scheduled to headline the UFC 234 pay-per-view (PPV) event last Sat. night (Feb. 9, 2019) inside Rob Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.
Promotion president, Dana White, was non-committal when asked about the creation of an interim title, instead waiting to see what Whittaker’s recovery timeline might be once the Aussie is discharged from the hospital later this week.
Taking over the main event slot was the middleweight showdown pitting former division champion, Anderson Silva, opposite 185-pound striking sensation, Israel Adesanya. “The Spider” put up a good fight, but ultimately fell to “The Last Stylebender” after three rounds of action (highlights here).
Adesanya was expected to compete for the middleweight title later this year, but those plans may be on hold until White and Co. can rebook Whittaker vs. Gastelum.