UFC president Dana White revealed on Saturday how dangerous it could've been for Robert Whittaker to fight at UFC 234 in Australia.
Whittaker was forced to withdraw hours before his middleweight title defense against Kelvin Gastelum due to a hernia that required immediate surgery. White said the champion likely avoided disaster.
"He's in the recovery room with his wife and his family," White said, according to Alexander K. Lee of MMA Fighting. "This is one of those freak accidents where the doctor said he'd literally never seen this type of injury in a young person. This usually only happens to old people. His bowel and his intestines poked through the hole and it didn’t happen yesterday after the (weigh-ins). They think he had this problem and it’s been going in and out.
"And it's one of those situations had it popped out during the fight, it could have been fatal for him. So this is really serious, we don't know exactly what happened with the doctor. Hopefully, they popped it back in and sewed it up and if that's the case, he'll be four weeks. This was a freak, freak injury, less than one percent - our doctor here at the UFC, who's been doing this for 30 years, has never seen it ever in his career and not in a young person."
White didn't say how he intends to sort out the top of the middleweight division following Whittaker's second withdrawal from a title defense. The champ also pulled out of a bout against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221.
Israel Adesanya's fight with Anderson Silva, which was bumped up to the main event at UFC 234, was set to be for the right to take on Whittaker next. However, with Gastelum still in line for a title shot first, there's a potential logjam coming 185 pounds.