Robert Whittaker
The Reaper

Australia

Out
Injury Abdomen
Est. Return 8/3/2019
Looking at late-summer return
MiddleweightUFC
Out
February 27, 2019
Whittaker (hernia) told Ariel Helwani of ESPN on Monday that he is hopeful to be back in the Octagon in August.
ANALYSIS
Whittaker was forced to withdraw from his most recent title defense against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234, and was ultimately taken to the hospital to undergo surgery for a hernia and collapsed bowel. The condition was considered life-threatening at the time, but the recovery process for "Bobby Knuckles" seems to be going well. In approximately four weeks, Whittaker plans to resume training and will be back in the cage by August if all goes well. Due to this absence, the UFC has scheduled an interim middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum for UFC 236 in April, putting the winner in line to face Whittaker in a unification bout in August.
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Surgery called 'serious and complicated'
MiddleweightUFC
Out
February 10, 2019
Whittaker expects to be discharged from a Melbourne hospital Thursday following Saturday's 3.5 hour surgical procedure, Ariel Helwani of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
It's been an incredibly difficult weekend to say the least for the UFC's middleweight champion, who was forced to withdraw from his title defense on the day of the fight and undergo emergency hernia surgery. Initial reports suggested a four-week absence, though many familiar with this type of procedure have intimated that it has the potential to keep Whittaker on the shelf much longer. Helwani reports that there is currently no timetable for return after what he described as a "serious and complicated surgery." It's too early to tell if the UFC intends to create an interim middleweight title while Whittaker goes through the recovery process, but that will presumably be evaluated in roughly four weeks. A fight between Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya certainly has some appeal, with the winner presumably facing Whittaker in a unification bout once he is healthy.
Shut down for four weeks
MiddleweightUFC
Out
February 9, 2019
Whittaker will be shut down for four weeks while he recovers from hernia surgery, Aaron Bronsteter of TSN.ca reports.
ANALYSIS
Whittaker felt strong abdominal pain the night before his scheduled title defense against Kelvin Gastelum and was forced to undergo surgery, cancelling the fight. The four-week time period appears to be the time in which Whittaker will be unable to train, so he'll need some additional time beyond that to get back into fighting shape. It remains unclear if and when he'll be able to reschedule his bout with Gastelum.
Pulls out of title defense
MiddleweightUFC
Out
February 9, 2019
Whittaker was forced to withdraw from his title defense fight against Kelvin Gastelum due to a hernia in his abdomen, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
Whittaker will miss out on the opportunity to defend his title on home soil. The injury was reportedly not related to his weight cut. Whittaker will undergo surgery Saturday, Okamoto reports. It's not yet clear how long he'll be away from the octagon and if the pair will be able to reschedule the fight.
Date set for title defense against Kelvin Gastelum
MiddleweightUFC
Out
November 13, 2018
Whittaker (hand) will defend his middleweight title against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 on Feb. 10 in Melbourne, Australia, MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
The matchup had been set for several months, though the actual bout has been delayed by Whittaker's hand surgery and the pair's schedule as they serve as coaches for season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter. The 27-year-old old will enjoy the support of his home country as he makes his first title defense. He's riding a nine-match winning streak, including two straight decision victories over Yoel Romero.
Lays out timeline for early-2019 return
MiddleweightUFC
Out
July 20, 2018
Whittaker (hand) told Ariel Helwani of ESPN that he won't be able to defend his middleweight title until 2019 at the earliest, likely in February.
ANALYSIS
Whittaker is scheduled to coach the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite Kelvin Gastelum, and the two head coaches typically square off at the end of the show. It's unclear if the timelines will match up for these two, however, as Whittaker needs additional time to recover from his recent hand surgery before he begins rehab. Rehab will take several more weeks, and then Whittaker wishes to at least get in a semi-normal fight camp while training at 100 percent. When he does finally square off with Gastelum, Whittaker has the advantage in both size and power, and likely enters as the betting favorite, provided he takes the time he needs to fully recover.