UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was just hours away from competing inside the Octagon and potentially ending not only his fight career, but his life at UFC 234. Whittaker, who was scheduled to defend his title against Kelvin Gastelum, underwent double surgery for a collapsed bowel and internal hernia.
The event, which took place in Australia and aired live on pay-per-view, went ahead with Israel Adesanya staking his claim to being the No. 1 contender at 185 pounds with a decision win over Anderson Silva. Gastelum appeared on the program with another UFC title, proclaiming himself to be the rightful middleweight champion.
Whittaker, who is now out of surgery and on the road to recovery, released a video on social media detailing everything that went down this past weekend.
"Let me say that I'm sorry to all my friends and family and fans that came out to watch me," Whittaker said. "I tried my best to try and swing it. I was fighting the doctors all the way up until they said, 'You've gotta get surgery or you're gonna lose part of your bowel. Or it could be potentially fatal.' I had to look at my health first.
"You guys know what it takes to keep me from the Octagon. 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. I'll be back better than ever."
Whittaker, just 28 years old, is a former Ultimate Fighter winner. He captured the interim title in 2017 and was later declared the undisputed champion.
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Hey guys ! Still kicking. I'm sorry to all my friends, fans and family for not being able to get in there Sunday. Apparently if you get emergency surgeries you can't be cleared to fight. Thanks for the overwhelming support from all my fans I am so blessed to know you guys have my back. A big thanks to my team mates @fabricioitte @alexprates07 @standstrongboxingcoachjustin @justinlang_ep @titusday77 and all the others from behind the scenes you guys were there from start to finish worrying and prioritizing my health above all. Lastly to @danawhite and @ufc for the immediate help and support throughout the process of testing and the emergency surgeries. I am blessed I found out when I did and avoided life long consequences. I'll be back better than ever.