Freshly installed as the undisputed UFC middleweight champion following Georges St-Pierre vacating the title he won from Michael Bisping, Robert Whittaker was booked to defend his title against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221. It appeared that the Middleweight division had returned to business as usual. Sadly not. Shortly after, Whittaker was pulled from the card due to what was described at the time as ‘multiple injuries’.
The headlining fight was saved with Yoel Romero stepping in to face Rockhold for yet another interim title. From that point on, there had been no clarification regarding the extent or nature of the injuries to Whittaker.
Following UFC 220 this past weekend, UFC president Dana White spoke with TSN and confirmed that Whittaker had been hospitalised with a nasty stomach infection which hadn’t been treated properly. White had the following to say;
“He had staph infection in his stomach. From what I understand it wasn’t treated properly and started to eat away at parts of his organs. He’s in serious condition, so it’s going to be a minute before he’s back, I think. Hopefully it turns around quick, but that stuff is life threatening if not treated the right way.”
Whittaker is riding an 8 fight winning streak and was due to face Rockhold in what would have been his first fight since claiming the interim middleweight title against Romero in July 2017. Whittaker’s misfortune has ultimately presented Romero with another shot at securing the interim gold on 10th February in Perth, Australia.
Fans are left hoping Whittaker makes a swift recovery so that a unification fight can be scheduled with the winner of Rockhold vs Romero. Unfortunately with no timetable in place for Whittaker’s return, the UFC middleweight division once again finds itself in a state of uncertainty.