A wave of frustration passed across the MMA community when it was announced that former champion Robert ‘The Reaper’ Whittaker won’t be competing at UFC 248.
Whittaker has a history of pulling out of crucial fights due to injuries. The fans therefore thought the reason would be same this time around. The fans obviously were disappointed as Whittaker has an entire market of Australia behind him.
However speaking in an interview, UFC President Dana White revealed the reason to be ‘extremely personal’. It is reportedly said that Whittaker pulled out of the bout to donate bone marrow to his sick daughter.
“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,” White told Submission Radio.
“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.
Whittaker took to Instagram to break the news with a picture of him and his daughter. Whittaker also claimed that a lot has happened in last 12 months and he requires more time with his family. (via Instagram):
View this post on Instagram
I'm sorry to all my friends, supporters and family for not being able to fight in March. A lot has happened over the 12 last months and I need to take some time now to be with my family, slow things down and to refocus. Sorry to everyone again but I'll be back. The best is yet to come.
Whittaker was slated to take on former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 back in February 2018. However he pulled out of the bout citing a knee injury and was replaced by Yoel Romero.
He was scheduled to take on Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 back in February 2019 but pulled out just few hours before the fight due to hernia. The hernia required surgical implications thus keeping him out for seven months.
Whittaker then made a comeback but lost his title against Israel Adesanya at UFC 243 in October 2019. It may very well be possible that his daughter’s health was a factor in his defeat.