Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was pulled from the UFC 234 main event opposite Kelvin Gastelum on hours’ notice on Saturday, undergoing surgery after dealing with a hernia overnight. Despite the pain, he was willing to go through the fight.
Whittaker underwent emergency surgery on Sunday morning local time in Melbourne, Australia, after being rushed to the hospital in the early hours of the day. “The Reaper” is still at the hospital in Melbourne, but his jiu-jitsu coach Alex Prates told MMA Fighting the surgery was a success.
“He had abdominal pain and was finally taken to the hospital by the UFC at 1am and was trying everything to remain in the fight, refusing any treatment that would force him out of the fight,” Prates told MMA Fighting. “He underwent emergency surgery at 4:30am due to a hernia that could affect his intestine.”
According to Prates, Whittaker tried to convince the doctors to let him fight Gastelum at the Rod Laver Arena.
”F*ck, he didn’t want the surgery, he wanted to fight,” Prates said. “‘Can we do it another day?’ A samurai, wanting to fight no matter what, but there was no negotiation with the medical team. The problem was very serious, and right now all the team is focused on Robert’s health and his recovery.”
On Whittaker's social media page, his management team confirmed that he wanted to fight despite the injury.
Whittaker’s team hopes to have the middleweight titleholder 100 percent healed and back in the gym in four weeks. The UFC has yet to announce what’s next for Gastelum and the winner of new UFC 234 main event - Israel Adesanya vs. Anderson Silva.