Robert Whittaker Reveals Estimated Timeline for His Return to the UFC

Robert Whittaker speaks out for the first time since he was forced to drop off UFC 221 in Australia

Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker wanted nothing more than to defend his title in front of a friendly crowd near home at the upcoming UFC 221 card in Perth, Australia.

Unfortunately, Whittaker was pulled off the card due to injury and just recently UFC president Dana White revealed that he was suffering from some sort of staph infection that could keep him sidelined for quite some time.

Whittaker admits it broke his heart to drop off the card where he was supposed to face Luke Rockhold in the main event. Now Rockhold will battle Yoel Romero for an interim title while Whittaker is on the mend with the winner expected to unify the middleweight championship later this year.

“Everyone knows I like to fight injured. Half the fights I’ve taken I’ve always been injured,” Whittaker revealed on Friday at the UFC 221 open workouts via Submission Radio. “Just before I got ill, I pulled my hamstring and 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 in the end just took it out of me, I was really struggling to recover. And then right at the end of the infection I got the chicken pox. That’s why I’ve got the scars all over my face, because it was an absolute mess. If anyone’s had it, it’s just horrible.

“When they offered this outcome to me I was delighted. The No.1 and No. 2 contenders get to bash each other, and I was just like, ‘yes, good, please’. You know, as a fan of this sport I would’ve paid to watch this fight. This is the fight other people want to see. And I’m more than happy to bash Yoel again, or I’m more than happy to give it to Rockhold as well. We’ll see.”

If there’s good news to come from this entire situation it’s that Whittaker won’t be out of action nearly as long as expected after White explained the extent of the illness that was affecting him.

Whittaker sounds like he’ll be ready to go again this summer with hopes of facing the winner of Rockhold vs. Romero to solidify his spot at the top of the middleweight division.

“I’m just focused on recovering,” Whittaker said. “I’m gonna let Yoel and Rockhold punch a bit, but things are good and I’m looking for a big return mid-year. So let’s see what happens.”

Whittaker will be cage side when Rockhold meets Romero in the main event at UFC 221 on Feb. 10 from Perth, Australia.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.