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Robert Whittaker plans UFC return in early 2020, shuts down ‘stupid’ calls for retirement

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Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, is not crying himself to sleep every night simply because he lost his 185-pound title to Israel Adesanya in the UFC 243 main event last weekend in Melbourne.

In fact, “The Reaper” is planning to get right back on his horse, so to speak, and resume training after doctors have determined his brain is ready for more punishment. That could lead to an Octagon return as early as February or March of 2020.

“I’m not looking to take a long time off,” Whittaker told Grange TV. “Obviously I have to give myself the appropriate amount of rest time for my brain, but I want to get back in there and I want to just get back to work. It’s what I do. If my health is all on point, on check, February, March next year. That’s not out of the ordinary. I think that would be good.”

Adesanya is expected to collide with top contender, Paulo Costa, right around the same time. That leaves Whittaker — who already holds two wins over Yoel Romero — in line for the winner or Kelvin Gastelum vs. Darren Till, or perhaps the streaking Jared Cannonier.

Just don’t call it a setback.

“This isn’t even a setback, this is just part of the career,” Whittaker said. “This is part of the ups and downs of fighting. If you never wanted to encounter hardships like this or the taste of defeat, then I never would have put my hat in the ring, because it’s always there. It’s looming. Everybody loses. Except Khabib. And I stand by that. I don’t think he ever loses. That guy is unreal. But yeah, everybody barring Khabib loses. It’s just part of the game. So I’m not gonna retire just because I lost. Fucking hell, that’s stupid.”

I think stuff like this may have been behind those retirement talks.

Whittaker’s loss to “The Last Stylebender” snapped a nine-fight win streak and was his first defeat since abandoning the welterweight division several years back. Still just 28 years old, “The Reaper” stands at 20-5 as a pro with 14 finishes.