UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and top contender Kelvin Gastelum were supposed to fight in the main event of UFC 234 last weekend. Regrettably, Whittaker was forced out of this bout and hospitalized with a hernia on the very day of the card.
Despite his fight being cancelled Kelvin Gastelum still attended this card, and post-event, masqueraded around the arena with a UFC title belt borrowed from flyweight champion Henry Cejudo.
Speaking to the media, Gastelum also declared himself the true middleweight champion.
Now out of the hospital, Robert Whittaker gave his take on this stunt in a video posted to is YouTube channel Grange TV.
“I thought it was cute,” Whittaker said of Gastelum toting the belt around (transcript via MMA Fighting). “You know when your kid finds your work belt at home and then he starts wearing it around the house? That’s kind of how I saw the whole thing. It was adorable.”
Continuing, Robert Whittaker admitted that he does feel bad that Kelvin Gastelum didn’t get to fight. However, having seen the staph infection Gastelum was battling during fight week, the champ feels that might be for the best.
“I feel bad for him that he trained and made the trip out here and then I couldn’t give it to him. I apologize for that but obviously my health comes first. It is what it is. . . His health was looking a bit shocking as well. It’s just one of those things. Maybe it was better for both of us.”
For what it’s worth, Kelvin Gastelum claims his staph infection, which was visible on his face, was well under control on fight week.
”I was fighting this staph infection on my face, on my body, the entire week,” he told ESPN on Monday (via Bloody Elbow). “I was on antibiotics the entire week fighting this thing. The UFC doctors were gracious and handling it well and they were real happy with how the infection on my skin was going away and how it’d be okay to fight. The commission was okay with letting me fight. Everything was on track, man. It was just devastating. To go through all that process, to go through all that work and not be able to fight and compete … man, it was horrible.”
What do you think of these comments from Robert Whittaker?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/14/2019.