Robert Whittaker has offered his first thoughts on his position in the middleweight division and his future moves since being hospitalised with a severe hernia and intestinal issues over the weekend.
Whittaker was rendered unable to compete against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234, meaning Israel Adesanya’s number one contendership fight with Anderson Silva took on an odd position. Will the UFC pass Gastelum’s claim to meet Whittaker next in order for Adesanya to get his shot? Will an interim title be created in order to have Adesanya and Gastelum duke it out prior to Whittaker’s return?
For Whittaker, first things that come first is his health. Then he can address his division.
“I’m in good spirits,” Whittaker said, speaking on his own podcast GrangeTV. “I’m thankful that I still have my health and that they found it before I fought and I can walk away from this and fight at a later date. My whole thing is I want to heal, train, and then fight. My health comes first. I need to make sure I’m healthy and then I’ll fight anyone, anywhere.”
While he was in hospital, Whittaker did manage to check out some of the talking points of UFC 234. For instance, he did see Gastelum’s arrival at the arena with a championship belt and declaring himself champion — a move that seemed to irritate fans.
“I thought it was cute,” Whittaker said. “You know when your kid finds your work belt at home and then he starts wearing it around the house? That’s kind of how I saw the whole thing. It was adorable.
“I feel bad for him that he trained and made the trip out here and then I couldn’t give it to him. I apologize for that but obviously my health comes first. It is what it is … His health was looking a bit shocking as well. It’s just one of those things. Maybe it was better for both of us.”