The challenger has now declared himself to be the champion since Whittaker didn’t show up for the scheduled title bout.
“This is my belt,” Gastelum said backstage at UFC 234 (via MMA Junkie). “I earned this. I showed up, traveled thousands and thousands of miles from home, made the weight. In my world, the wrestling world, if the guy shows up and makes the weight, for some reason cancels the bout, the guy forfeits the match – I win. I am the champion.”
Whittaker has not been stripped of the title at this time and the timetable for his return will get determined as the fighter heals up.
Despite not being the real champion, a boastful Gastelum says he’ll give Whittaker a shot at the gold.
“Hopefully Rob heals up great, I wish him a speedy recovery and when he heals up maybe he can get a crack at my title,” says Gastelum.
There has been no defense of the UFC Middleweight Title since UFC 225, where Whittaker defeated Yoel Romero by decision.