Robert Whittaker was scheduled to have his first UFC Middleweight Championship defense at UFC 221 against former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold on February 10 at Perth Arena in his home country of Australia. However, he was recently pulled from the event due to a staph infection.
It was announced on January 13 that Yoel Romero would be replacing Whittaker in this fight and will battle against Rockhold for the interim UFC Middleweight title, with the winner of this bout then facing Whittaker in a unification fight at a later date when the Austrailian is able to return to the Octagon.
However, speaking at the UFC 220 event at the TD Garden in Boston last weekend, Dana White revealed that The Reaper's condition has gone from bad to worse, meaning fans may have to wait sometime before they see him fight again.
The UFC President stated that Whittaker was mistreated when first diagnosed by physicians and as a result, the infection spread to his stomach and it is starting to eat away at his organs. His situation is close to being 'life-threatening'.
White said, via MMA Junkie: “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 originally won the interim UFC Middleweight title after defeating Romero at UFC 213 in July.
He was then promoted to the undisputed champion after then UFC Middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre vacated the title after being diagnosed with colitis.
The Reaper's future in MMA is now unknown. Many fans will be hoping he is able to return to the Octagon and defend the UFC Middleweight title later in 2018, but he must put his health first before anything else.
Fingers crossed he gets better soon and is able to compete once more in UFC.
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