The newest season of The Ultimate Fighter, which will be coached by UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and top contender Kelvin Gastelum will debut tonight. Once the show has been wrapped up, Whittaker is expected to defend his title against Gastelum — though the setting of this fight has not yet been determined.
Speaking to reporters in LA this week, Whittaker updated on the hand injuries that he’s been dealing with, and gave a rough timetable for his anticipated return to action.
“I had surgery on my right hand only,” Whittaker said (transcript via MMANytt). “I got a plate put in there and some screws. The left hand, it’s called a bootlegged deformity I think. It’s where the ligament down the middle splits so I’m just trying to deal with that right now.
“I’ve already started with my strength and conditioning and rehab trying to get the full range of motion and movement back in both hands. It’s kind of playing it by ear right now. I’m kind of just testing it to see where my threshold is, what I can do right now. Once my hands both feel great, then I can go talk to the doctor and talk about full training.”
“I’m looking to fight early next year,” Whittaker added, discussing his return. “That’s when I think I’ll be at my best, when you can expect me at 100-percent. The thing is with both hands injured, I want to not only get better to fight. I want to get better and then train at 100-percent. I want to increase my skill set at 100-percent so by the next time that I step into the Octagon, I’m better than I was before.”
Whenever it happens, Robert Whittaker is looking forward to his fight with Kelvin Gastelum, and is confident he’ll win handily. In his opinion, he’s just an overall better fighter than his upcoming challenger.
“To be honest I just think I’m better,” Whittaker said of Gastelum. “I think I’m better across the board.”
Who do you think will come out on top when Robert Whittaker battles Kelvin Gastelum in the new year?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/29/2018.