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Morning Report: Robert Whittaker on UFC 236 interim title fight: ‘Are Adesanya and Gastelum gonna fight for Cejudo’s belt?’

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Robert Whittaker
Robert Whittaker
Esther Lin

At UFC 234, Robert Whittaker was supposed to defend his middleweight title against Kelvin Gastelum. Of course, as you know by now, that didn’t happen. The evening before the bout, Whittaker came down with severe stomach pains that ended up being a sudden onset hernia and collapsed bowel that required emergency surgery. Since then, Whittaker has been recovering from his surgery and the UFC booked an interim middleweight title bout between Gastelum and Israel Adesanya for UFC 236 on April 13. When all that is said and done, Whittaker is hoping to get back in there and fight the winner at the end of summer.

“They said that after about two weeks I can start to walk again and then about four weeks I can start to ease back into training and movement and things like that and then just take it from there,” Whittaker told Ariel Helwani recently. “The main thing is not to lift because obviously my intestine and bowels are a bit funny with the scarring and cuts that I had to get.

“. . . I’ve penned in my diary ‘August’ but my biggest calendar is just my health. I’ve never had a hard timeline on when I fight ever. It’s just one of those things, I need to get better, when I’m better I train, and then I fight to the best of my ability. So I think August is a good date. I think, obviously I have to let Adesanya and Gastelum fight and then when they’re ready I’ll give them a run.”

The creation of the interim belt didn’t sit well with many fans. After all, it has not even been a year since Whittaker last defended his belt and this injury does not look like it will sideline him for an overly extended period of time. On the other side of the spectrum, both Adesanya campaigned for Whittaker to be stripped of the title and Gastelum paraded around at UFC 234 wearing his friend flyweight champion Henry Cejudo’s belt and proclaiming himself the true middleweight champion. Ever the cool customer, Whittaker was fine with both the interim title and Gastelum’s fake belt, though he did have an important question about their fight.

“I was happy for them,” Whittaker said. “I think it’s good. I think it’s good for both of them. I think they jumped the queue a little bit and I feel for the other middleweight contenders, the top dudes, but I think it’s good for them to fight it out, to have to have that run before they get a shot at me. I need a little bit of time and they’ve got something to do now.

“ . . . A better thing to ask is are Adesanya and Gastelum gonna fight for Cejudo’s belt? [Laughing] Or is it gonna be a new one? Does he give it back? I’m not sure.”

With Whittaker now planning to fight the winner of the interim title fight, he will obviously be watching UFC 236 closely. And though he was unwilling to pick who he thought would win between the two, Whittaker did reveal that a part of him is hoping Adesanya continues his rise.

“I think, stylistically for us, I think Adesanya matches up better for me,” Whittaker said. “I think I can get inside his guard and I can put heat on him. I think Gastelum is a hard fight because he’s a tough guy with a thick head and he would have just put the pressure on, put the pace on. I think Adesanya doesn’t like pacing like that sort of way, I think he would try and play a distance game with me which I’m very happy to do, but I’m very quick and I surprise a lot of people with that.

“That’s not an easier fight, wrong word. It’s a better fight for me. Plus, of course, with the area and our countries, I think it would be a great matchup.”


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If you listen to the full interview, Bobby Knux talks about how a collapsed bowel is supposed to occur and says it should come from either a surgery or like a major trauma, AKA getting hit by a car, and he hasn’t had either of those. So either Robert Whittaker is a medical marvel, or Yoel Romero literally hits like a truck. I know which one I’m going with.

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



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