Whittaker was forced to withdraw from his title defense against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 to undergo surgery for a “collapsed bowel and internal hernia” that could have been fatal had he stepped into the Octagon in Melbourne on Saturday night. As a result of his exit, a middleweight clash between Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva was elevated to the evening’s main event. Adesanya won a unanimous decision over “The Spider.”
While UFC President Dana White claimed “The Reaper” could return in as soon as four to six weeks at Saturday’s post-fight press conference, Whittaker did not provide a timetable for a return in his statement.
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 because he came out here, prepped, and came a long way and I couldn’t give him a show. It is what it is.
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.
Whittaker last competed at UFC 225 in June 2018, when he took a five-round split decision over Yoel Romero in a bout that was deemed a non-title fight due to Romero missing weight. The 28-year-old champion has won his last nine fights within the Las Vegas-based promotion.
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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.