How Australia’s UFC world champion begged his wife to fight minutes before surgery with a hernia and a twisted bowel – that saw his sold-out title defence cancelled
- Superstar Robert Whittaker pulled put of Sunday’s UFC 234 in Melbourne
- Rushed to hospital on Saturday night and has since had surgery for a hernia
- Was due to fight to retain his middleweight title defence in the headline bout
- He suffered twisted and collapsed bowel and an internal intestine hernia
Australian UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker wanted to go through with his scheduled title defence just five minutes before emergency surgery.
The star fighter suffered a twisted and collapsed bowel and an internal intestine hernia and could have died if he stepped in the ring.
He was slated to headline UFC 234 against U.S. challenger Kelvin Gastelum at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Sunday but had to pull out.
Australian UFC fighter Robert Whittaker suffered a twisted and collapsed bowel and an internal intestine hernia and could have died if he stepped in the ring
UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has pulled out on Sunday’s showdown
Whittaker’s wife Sofia and manager Titus Day had to convince him to call off the fight and have the surgery after ‘intense pain’ started about 9pm on Saturday.
‘Up until five minutes before going into surgery Rob was insisting he would fight, but advice was that a blow to his stomach could be fatal,’ Day said.
UFC boss Dana White said Whittaker ‘had suffered a less than one per cent, freak, injury’.
‘What they told me was that his colon and intestines had popped out,’ White said in the post-show press conference.
‘They don’t think it was anything he did yesterday, they think he’s had it for a while and it’s been popping in and out.
‘The scary part is that if he took a shot to the stomach he could have died. He could rupture the colon and become septic and that’s not good.
‘Everything happens for a reason. It’s great the way this worked out, to find out this kid had this problem and was unhealthy and we were able to get it fixed and they think he’ll be out for four to six weeks.’
The Kiwi-born Sydney-based star has been plagued with illness and injury in recent years
Whittaker started vomiting soon after the abdominal pain began but refused to go to hospital until 3am on Sunday.
‘He was actually going to push through it and fight, thank God he didn’t,’ White said.
Whittaker will spend the next four to six weeks recovering then defend his belt against either Gastelum or sixth-ranked middleweight Israel Adesanya.
Gastelum borrowed the belt of flyweight champion Henry Cerjudo, who attended the show.
‘I turned up to fight,’ he said, declaring he was the champion as Whitaker had effectively forfeited the fight.
Robert Whittaker (pictured) was rushed to hospital on Saturday night and has been diagnosed with a hernia and undergone surgery
However, he was more forgiving after he learned of Whittaker’s severe injuries that forced him to call off the bout.
‘I was devastated when they told me the news, I wish Rob all the best, a speedy recovery and hope he recovers a hundred per cent,’ he told ESPN.
The UFC offered refunds to disappointed fans who had bought tickets to see Whittaker in action, but only a handful of fans accepted them.
With a record of 20 wins from 24 bouts, Kiwi-born Sydney-based star Whittaker hasn’t been beaten in five years.
However, he’s been plagued with injuries and illness in recent years.
A straph infection in his stomach forced Whittaker to pull out UFC 221 in Perth last year, which was also a title defence.
He was on the comeback after breaking his hand in an epic showdown with Yoel Romero last June.
Whittaker attracted a huge crowd of Melbourne fans in the big build up to UFC 234