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Brain damage? Kelvin Gastelum suggests brutal Yoel Romero wars may have left Robert Whittaker a different fighter

What happens when you absorb a combined 185 significant strikes from a killer like Yoel Romero? Kelvin Gastelum thinks we’re about to find out.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, is coming off back-to-back wars against top 185-pound contender, Yoel Romero, after consecutive main events with “The Soldier of God” at UFC 213 and then again at UFC 225.

That equates to 10 rounds — and 50 grueling minutes — against one of the hardest punchers in not just the middleweight division, but all of mixed martial arts (MMA).

The immediate damage was quite noticeable, as Whittaker was sent to the sidelines with a broken hand (pic), but the longterm damage may have been even more costly, according to the next top contender.

“I don’t know if he’s going to be the same fighter after these fights,” Kelvin Gastelum told the MMA media at last week’s scrum. “These wars that he’s been in, it takes a toll on the body, so we’ll see how he comes out after this hand surgery.”

If it can happen to Conor McGregor, it can happen to anyone.

Gastelum earned the next crack at the crown — just barely — by agreeing to coach the next and possibly the final season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), which is designed to keep Whittaker in the headlines while his hand heals.

When and where they’ll finally collide remains to be seen, but tentative plans have “The Reaper” putting his belt on the line somewhere in December, assuming he can get medically cleared by then.

For perhaps more than just his mangled mitt.

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