Robert Whittaker Rules Himself Out of Next Title Defense Until 2019

Injury plagued UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has revealed that his 2018 fight campaign is already over, despite having only fought once this year.

Whittaker suffered a broken hand during his latest title defense against Yoel Romero last month at UFC 225 and the 27-year-old says that the healing and rehabilitation process from that means he won’t be back in action again until 2019.

“I haven’t even started the rehab process yet,” Whittaker told ESPN.com. “Just more letting it heal first before I can implement that. They put a plate and some screws in. Realistically I’m looking at February next year.”

In the mean time, Whittaker will star as a coach opposite his next intended opponent Kelvin Gastelum on The Ultimate Fighter Season 28, and after initially hoping that the fight between them would go down at the end of the year, Gastelum has now been left wondering what toll ‘The Reaper’s’ repeated injury woes might take on him.

“I don’t know if he’s going to be the same fighter after these fights, after these wars that he’s been in,” Gastelum said backstage at UFC 226. “It takes a toll on the body, so we’ll see how he comes out after this hand surgery that he had.”

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