Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was expected to return to the cage against Jared Cannonier at UFC 248, but was later forced out of this matchup with personal issues.
While it was and still is unclear what kind of personal issues caused Whittaker to withdraw from the fight, UFC President Dana White caused a tidal wave of speculation when he appeared to get emotional discussing Whittaker’s situation.
“Let me put it to you this way,” White told Submission Radio when asked why Whittaker withdrew from UFC 248. “That’s personal for Whittaker. If Whittaker wants to talk about that, he can, but I’ll tell you this, when you talk about somebody whose priorities are in the right place, who is completely selfless and down to the core a good human being, that’s Robert Whittaker.
“The reason Robert Whittaker is not fighting in this fight is one of the most unselfish things I’ve seen in my life. He’s a good man, he’s a good human being, and I have a lot of respect for him. Good luck to him in what he’s dealing with right now. I can’t put into words and articulate how I feel about Robert Whittaker. He’s the real deal, man.”
After these comments from White, rumors began to swirl about the cause of Whittaker’s withdrawal. One rumor, started by the twitter account @UFCRelated, claimed Whittaker withdrew to donate bone marrow to his daughter. Despite there being zero evidence to support this rumor, the website BloodyCanvas.net reported it as fact. Several other sites later followed suit and picked up the story.
As it turns out, these rumors about Whittaker and his family are inaccurate, as many expected. On Thursday, the middleweight champ took to Instagram to dispel what he called “false rumors” surrounding his withdrawal.
“Thanks everyone for all the support & well wishes, lots of false rumors out there so please ignore them. I have been off socials working with some personal matters and spending time with my family, i will back very soon, stronger & better than ever before. #alliswell #reapernation”
Needless to say, there has been quite a bit of misinformation circling.
Who do you want to see Robert Whittaker fight in his UFC return?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 1/23/2020.