Robert Whittaker Has Outlived Serious Medical Issues in Order to Return to the Octagon

Robert Whittaker is one of the most popular UFC fighters. One reason for this can be attributed to his great life story. Many UFC fighters have faced adversity in their lives, but Whittaker dealt with something different. In fact, the Australian-New Zealand MMA fighter has survived several serious health issues.

Robert Whittaker’s rise to fame

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After getting knocked out by Stephen Thompson, Whittaker realized his career in the welterweight division may not improve. A few months later, he made his middleweight debut against Clint Hester. It was so great that it earned both men a Fight of the Night award. With this win, Whittaker started his middleweight journey that’s still going on today.

He went on a tear through the division. Whittaker beat guys like Uriah Hall, Jacare Souza, and Yoel Romero. These wins not only earned him the middleweight title; it also made him one of the best middleweights in the UFC. That said, one thing some people criticize Whittaker for has been his inactive schedule. 

He beat Romero the first time in 2017 to win the interim title. Then, he didn’t fight again for nearly a full year. His next fight was a rematch with Romero. After he beat Romero again, he took another year off. Then, in his most recent fight, he lost to Israel Adesanya. Whittaker is gearing up to face Darren Till. His inactive schedule bugged fans regardless, but he had good reasons for it.

Robert Whittaker had back-to-back health emergencies

UFC fighter Robert Whittaker
Robert Whittaker makes his way to the Octagon | Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

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When Whittaker won the interim title in 2017, he was supposed to fight the real champ for the official belt later that year, according to MMAJunkie. However, the champ, Georges St. Pierre, retired from the sport, which meant Whittaker became the real champion. For his first fight as the champ, he was supposed to fight Luke Rockhold, a former champion in the division. 

However, he had to pull out of the fight due to a stomach issue. Like MMAJunkie wrote, Dana White, the UFC’s president, said that it was a serious issue. White said that, “He had staph infection in his stomach. From what I understand it wasn’t treated properly and started to eat away at parts of his organs.”

Romero replaced Whittaker and fought Rockhold instead, and Romero won. That’s why he had to fight Romero later that year. But then, when Whittaker was supposed to fight his next opponent, Kelvin Gastelum, more stomach issues came up. 

MMAWeekly reported that mere hours before Whittaker’s fight against Gastelum, he was forced to pull out due to another health emergency. After experiencing intense pain, he had to get a dual surgery for his “twisted and collapsed bowel” and “internal hernia of the intestine.” Doctors told him if he got hit in the stomach, then he may have died.

Robert Whittaker’s had to deal with mental health issues, too

As the New York Post writes, not long after he lost to Adesanya, Whittaker’s mental health issues resurfaced, too. He’s suffered from depression for a long time, but he felt it threaten to overcome him after this difficult time.

On top of that, the intense training that he does contributed to feelings of burnout. As a result of these troubles, he retreated from public life for a while. He seems to be better now, and he’s participating in upcoming fights and events. However, a lot of health issues are unexpected. So, Whittaker may face more than one kind of fight in the future.