Robert Whittaker Had Emergency Surgery Prior To UFC Saudi Arabia

Robert Whittaker, UFC
Robert Whittaker, UFC 298 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker underwent emergency surgery for an abscess he suffered through just 24 hours prior to flying out to Saudi Arabia.

“Rob had a really bad abscess that flared up a week before flying out,” Whittaker’s manager Titus Day told Fox Sports Australia.

“He had headaches, tooth pain, it was like he’d been kicked in the side of the head. He couldn’t train, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. It was f*cking painful.”

Whittaker made quick work of Ikram Aliskerov in the main event of UFC Saudi Arabia, but he had to battle through the painful abscess just to make it to the fight.

“The whole side of his head was in pain so we had to rush him in for emergency surgery,” said Day.

According to Day ‘The Reaper’ had already wrapped up training camp in Australia and was preparing to fly out to Saudi Arabia for the fight when the abscess flared up. Emergency surgery was conducted and he flew out for the fight, but nobody was sure what kind of shape he’d show up in.

“Rob had already stopped training a few days prior to the surgery in Sydney, and then flew out with his face still numb. We had no idea if it was going to be alright,” Day said.

“Everyone was just praying the swelling would go down and everything would be OK, and thankfully it was.”

In his post-fight interview Whittaker expressed interest in being the backup fighter for the middleweight title fight at UFC 305 in Perth. Israel Adesanya will challenge Dricus du Plessis for the 185 belt, and ‘Bobby Knuckles’ hopes to be there in case someone falls out.

He’s still got some work on the abscess to go.

“Rob’s still got pain there. Still needs more surgery to be done in the next couple of weeks,” said Day.

“Right now, regarding Perth, it’s just too early to say. There was a lot of talk on the night about Rob being the backup for that UFC 305 main event. There was also talk about him fighting somebody else, too. And potentially, he could still do either of those. He’ll have to meet with the team and talk it through.”