Robert Whittaker was forced out of his scheduled Middleweight title fight — which was set to headline last night’s (Feb. 9, 2019) UFC 234 pay-per-view (PPV) event in Melbourne -- Australia — because of a hernia.
As a result, “Bobby Knuckles” had to undergo surgery and will be out a couple of months.
Kelvin Gastelum, meanwhile, took the opportunity to crown himself the new Middleweight champion, borrowing Henry Cejudo’s shiny new belt, parading around Rod Laver Arena with it over his shoulder much to the dismay of many, Conor McGregor included.
According to Dana White, obviously, Gastelum is not the champion despite his “cute” antics.
“I saw, that was cute. He borrowed Henry Cejudo’s belt,” White said during the UFC 234 post-fight presser (video replay here). Still, White did state Gastelum is still the No. 1 contender to face Whittaker once he’s good and ready to return, despite Israel Adesanya’s win over Anderson Silva.
As for Whittaker, White says he gets an obvious pass for “not showing up to work,” and now faces a road to recovery after having his insides realigned. As far as any thought of stripping Whittaker or creating an interim strip, White scoffed at the idea.
“He’s going to be better in four-to-six weeks,” White said at the presser (via Sporting News). “When we have a guy who blows an ACL or takes some time off, we look at how long those guys are going to be out for and make a decision.”
“Time is not your friend in this business,” added White when explained how UFC comes to a decision regarding interim titles. “Rob’s looking like four-to-six weeks, so we’ll go from there. It’s never fun to strip someone of the title, they worked hard to get there, so it’s never fun.”
Despite the estimated four- to six-week recovery timeline given to him by Hollywood megastar Matt Damon — seriously — there is no telling when “The Reaper” will be able to return to full-blown mixed martial arts (MMA) action.
That said, Gastelum may have a decision to make down the road, as he will have to ponder taking another fight or wait for Robert should he have to sit out an extended period of time.
For complete UFC 234 results and coverage click here.