UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker was supposed to defend the strap against Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC 234, but Whittaker was forced to pull out of the bout due to a severe abdominal issue that required surgery.
Gatselum would be seen on and off camera carrying around a title belt while calling himself the real middleweight champion, which is a stunt that Whittaker has labeled as “cute.”
“I thought it was cute,” Whittaker said on Grange TV (via MMA Fighting). “You know when your kid finds your work belt at home and then he starts wearing it around the house? That’s kind of how I saw the whole thing. It was adorable. I feel bad for him that he trained and made the trip out here and then I couldn’t give it to him. I apologize for that but obviously my health comes first. It is what it is. . . His health was looking a bit shocking as well. It’s just one of those things. Maybe it was better for both of us.”
Whittaker will need several weeks to full recover from the surgery and could be back in action by the Summer.
The middleweight champion is willing to fight Gastelum when he returns and whomever else the UFC deems a title challenger.
“With Anderson and Adesanya just fighting, I don’t know what that does,” Whittaker said. “I don’t know what the UFC is gonna make. I’ve never picked a fight. They just line them up and I beat them and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’ve never tip-toed my way to the title. I’m not worried. I don’t know what the UFC want to do with Gastelum and Adesanya now because obviously, I’ve heard a lot of things. How the UFC wants to go about lining up either Gastelum still or Adesanya or getting them to fight someone before, I think it certainly spices up the division. [Yoel] Romero and [Paulo] Costa have been calling out Adesanya. I know that there’s lifeblood in the division.”