The UFC has never been a big fan of its athletes competing in other sports, which is why it was somewhat surprising to learn they were going to let UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker compete as a wrestler for Australia in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. But that was before Whittaker signed on the dotted line to face Yoel Romero at UFC 225 in June.
While the UFC didn’t unilaterally decide he could no longer compete at the Games being held April 4th to 15th), the certainly gave the injury prone Whittaker a pretty convincing ultimatum.
”The UFC wasn’t too happy with my competing in the Commonwealth Games. I was told I would have been stripped of the title if I had gotten injured. Everyone knows my priority. This (UFC) is my job. It’s not really a choice to be made. If it’s a choice, providing finances and putting food on the table and being paid for my job, or competing in the Commonwealth Games where I’m not making money, is there really a choice to be made? I thought for an hour or two, but there was never a choice to be made.”
The blame mainly lies with Whittaker’s injuries, which messed up his original schedule to both fight for the UFC and wrestle for Australia. If he’d fought at UFC 221 in February as planned, he’d have been free and clear to compete in the Commonwealth Games. But a staph infection knocked him off the card, moving what will be his first UFC title defense a little too close to the Games for comfort.
With the UFC middleweight division in a state of chaos for nearly two years, it’s not surprising the promotion wants to ensure no further ridiculousness occurs. Sorry Australia!