It turns out Robert Whittaker’s afflictions are as serious as Dana White said.
In his first public appearance since pulling out of his title defense opposite Luke Rockhold at UFC 221, the reigning middleweight champ shed light on the injuries that forced him out of the bill’s headliner. UFC president White had previously attributed his withdrawal to a mistreated staph infection, but Whittaker revealed Thursday he’d injured his hamstring and contracted chicken pox to boot.
“Everyone knows I like to fight injured,” Whittaker said. “Half the fights I’ve taken, I’ve always been injured. Just before I got ill, I pulled my hamstring. We could work around it and we were doing things to compensate for it – we were working around it. But then I got a really bad infection, and the infection and the antibiotics just took it out of me.
“I was really struggling to recover and then right at the end of the infection, I got the chickenpox. That’s why I’ve got the scars all over my face. It was an absolute mess. If anyone’s had it, it’s just horrible.”
Rockhold was soon booked to face Yoel Romero – Whittaker’s last conquest – for an interim crown in Perth, a matchup the undisputed champ wholeheartedly endorsed. The pair meet in Whittaker’s home country on Feb. 10, with the Aussie aiming to face the winner this summer.
“I’m just focused on recovering. I’m gonna let Yoel and Rockhold punch it out a bit, but things are good and I’m looking for a big return mid-year. So let’s see what happens.”