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UFC champ Robert Whittaker released from hospital, targets summer return

Robert Whittaker Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been released from a Melbourne hospital, and according to his manager, if all goes well, he could be back in the cage defending his title in as soon as four months.

ESPN reported Wednesday that Whittaker, who was pulled from his scheduled title defense against Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 234 at Rod Laver Arena due to a hernia, was released from an Australian hospital several days after undergoing emergency surgery due to a hernia.

According to Whittaker’s manager, Titus Day, Whittaker’s timetable for a return is projected for sometime between June and August, depending on how his recovery goes.

”I’d say he’ll be able to fight next sometime between June and August depending on recovery,” Day told ESPN. “Hopefully closer to June.”

While Whittaker has been released from the hospital, he’s under doctor’s orders not to fly back to Sydney until next week. It will be at least four-to-six weeks until he can resume training.

There has been speculation about the future of Whittaker’s middleweight championship status, given he has only fought once in the year and a half since winning what was then an interim title against Yoel Romero at UFC 213.

Gastelum, for his part, paraded around Melbourne with a title belt proclaiming himself the real champ. Israel Adesanya, who defeated Anderson Silva in the bout promoted to main event of UFC 234, called on the UFC to strip Whittaker of the belt and to match him and Gastelum for the title.

UFC president Dana White ruled out stripping Whittaker, while also being open to the idea of an interim title fight.

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