weather icon Overcast

Emergency surgery forces Robert Whittaker out of UFC 234

UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker hoped to spend Sunday celebrating a successful title defense in his home country as he was set to headline UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia.

Then the pain began in his abdomen and his night ended in emergency surgery after being forced to pull out of his scheduled title defense against Kelvin Gastelum.

Whittaker posted a video to social media from his hospital bed on the frightening turn of events.

View this post on Instagram

Hey guys ! Still kicking. I'm sorry to all my friends, fans and family for not being able to get in there Sunday. Apparently if you get emergency surgeries you can't be cleared to fight. Thanks for the overwhelming support from all my fans I am so blessed to know you guys have my back. A big thanks to my team mates @fabricioitte @alexprates07 @standstrongboxingcoachjustin @justinlang_ep @titusday77 and all the others from behind the scenes you guys were there from start to finish worrying and prioritizing my health above all. Lastly to @danawhite and @ufc for the immediate help and support throughout the process of testing and the emergency surgeries. I am blessed I found out when I did and avoided life long consequences. I'll be back better than ever.

A post shared by Robert Whittaker (@robwhittakermma) on

“I wanted to give you all an update on how I’m doing,” Whittaker said. “I’m still in the hospital. I had to get emergency surgery on Sunday because I had a collapsed bowel and an internal hernia that was causing me all sorts of problems.

“Let me say that I’m sorry to all my friends and family and fans that came out to watch me perform, but unfortunately I couldn’t be there. I tried my best to try and swing it. I was fighting the doctors the whole way up until they said, ‘You have to get surgery or you’re going to lose part of your bowel.’ Or it could be potentially fatal. I had to look at my health first. I’m sorry, guys.”

Whittaker hopes to make a quick recovery, though there is no timetable for his return. He could once again be matched up against Gastelum, though undefeated prospect Israel Adesanya defeated Anderson Silva in the new main event in Melbourne and staked a claim on the top contender spot as well.

SHORT DESCRIPTION (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Whittaker was just disappointed he couldn’t compete this weekend.

“It is what it is,” he continued. “You can’t plan for these things. I’m sorry to Gastelum because he came out here and prepped and I couldn’t give him a show. I want to say a special thank you to my teammates, coaching staff and my friends and family that helped me during the whole period. You guys know what it takes to keep me from the octagon. So for you guys to be behind me and supporting me and sending me your love like that, it means a lot to me. It really does. And it makes it easier for me to try even harder next time, to get in there and to put my soul on bare and put on a good show for you guys.”

Whittaker was also forced from a title fight in Australia in early 2018 due to a staph infection.

Nurmagomedov fires back at Nevada

Representatives for Khabib Nurmagomedov accepted a plea agreement with the Nevada Athletic Commission that called for a nine-month suspension for his role in a brawl after UFC 229 to be reduced by three months should he produce an anti-bullying PSA.

Apparently, the lightweight champion was less than enthusiastic about the deal.

He told reporters in Russia last week that he has no plans to participate in such a video and won’t fight until the one-year ban issued to his teammates for their roles in the post-fight brawl at T-Mobile Arena expires anyway.

“(The NAC) said to take part in a social campaign,” Nurmagomedov said in an interview first translated by BloodyElbow.com. “The state of Nevada is a place where they allow drugs, prostitution and gambling.

“Let them work on themselves. There were fighters who didn’t fight for two years and didn’t have their belts taken for a year and a half. I’m ready to fight, they were the ones who banned me.”

Nurmagomedov would like to fight in New York in November.

UFC president Dana White has indicated the organization will introduce an interim title to the division should Nurmagomedov choose to sit out a full year from the date of his incident in October.

“Guys can’t sit out and wait that long if they have the title, you can’t do it,” White said at the post-UFC 234 news conference. “So if that’s true and he is going to do that, then we have to figure out something else. You start looking at whether it’s Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson, or one of these other guys. Whoever wants to.

“When opportunity knocks, answer the door. So we will see how this thing plays out. That’s the criteria.”

Donald Cerrone has indicated he will fight McGregor later this year, but White said nothing is done at this point.

Velasquez set to return on ESPN

Former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will return to the cage for the first time since July 2016 when he takes on Francis Ngannou in the main event of ESPN’s first network card on Sunday night.

The main card of UFC on ESPN 1, which takes place in Phoenix and also includes a lightweight bout between Paul Felder and James Vick, airs at 6 p.m. Preliminary card bouts will also air on the network at 4 p.m.

More MMA: Follow at CoveringTheCage.com and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Covering The Cage Videos
Greg Hardy, former NFL star, on MMA knockout
The former NFL star needed just 17 seconds to score a knockout on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series (Adam Hill/Review-Journal)
Marlon Moraes says Henry Cejudo will regret stepping up to bantamweight - VIDEO
UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo is coming up to the bantamweight division to battle Marlon Moraes for the vacant belt on June 8 at UFC 238. Moraes said Cejudo will regret going after a second title in a new division and added that he thinks his path will cross with former champion TJ Dillashaw in the future.
Paige VanZant details her arm injury, when she can return - VIDEO
UFC strawweight Paige VanZant was briefly linked to fight at UFC 236, but had to withdraw from the bout due to a broken arm. As a guest on the RJ Ringside Podcast, she detailed the injury and also spoke about joining the M-1 Global booth as a color commentator.
UFC 236 Press Conference Highlights
UFC 236 will feature a pair of interim title fights. In the main event, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will face lightweight contender Dustin Poirier and middleweights Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum will collide in the co-main event. UFC 236 will take place in Atlanta, Ga., on Apr. 13.
Jon Jones retains light heavyweight belt at UFC 235 - VIDEO
Jon Jones retained the UFC light heavyweight belt when he earned a decision over Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC 235.
Kamaru Usman crowned new champ at UFC 235 — VIDEO
Kamaru Usman became the first African-born fighter to claim a UFC belt when he defeated Tyron Woodley to become the promotion's new welterweight champion.
UFC 235 Official Weigh-in Results - VIDEO
All 24 fighters competing at UFC 235 at the T-Mobile Arena on March 2 stepped on the scale prior for the official fight card weigh-ins. All four fighters competing in the title bouts slated for the event made weight.
UFC's Jones says he has no shame after recent drug test results are released - VIDEO
Though recent drug test results still show trace amounts of Turinabol in his system, UFC light heayvweight champion Jon Jones says he has no shame and is hiding nothing as he prepares for his UFC 235 title bout against Anthony Smith.
Anthony Smith stays level-headed prior to UFC 235 title fight - VIDEO
Despite UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones being in the spotlight for drug test discrepancies and other outside the cage struggles, Anthony Smith says he is tuning out the noise and remaining focused on the challenge of beating the reigning champion in the cage.
UFC 235 Media Day Highlights
Highlights and staredowns from the top three fights on the UFC 235 fight card taking place at the T-Mobile Arena on March 2.
Dustin Poirier beats up Max Holloway at UFC 236

Dustin Poirier bloodied Max Holloway and won a unanimous decision for the UFC interim lightweight title on Saturday night, denying Holloway his chance to become only the fourth fighter to hold two belts at the same time.

Poirier bloodies Holloway, wins UFC interim lightweight belt

Dustin Poirier bloodied Max Holloway and won a unanimous decision for the UFC interim lightweight title on Saturday night, denying Holloway his chance to become only the fourth fighter to hold two belts at the same time.