Friday, July 21, 2017

Immediately after defeating Yoel Romero at UFC 213, now UFC interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker said he had injured his knee in training, and reinjured it early in the fight. Romero landed a thunderous low kick, and UFC com­men­ta­tor Joe Ro­gan immediately noticed something was wrong. When the Aussie returned to his corner after Round 1 he said, “My left knee’s f***ed.” He lost Round 1, and lost Round 2, too, but came back to win three straight and the title.

Whittaker spoke recently with Nick Walshaw for Australia’s Daily Telegraph (subscription) and reported that he suffered apar­tially torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) and given that plus “niggling injuries” he will likely not return to the Octagon until 2018.

Whittaker was asked about the severity of the injury.

“Doc­tors al­ways think the end of the world, right?” he replied, laughing. “If it was up to them I’d be in a wheel­chair. But I’m ex­tremely lucky to have a great sports doc in An­drew McDon­ald. The injury itself, it’s not really my job to understand. All I can say is that it’s a serious grade two medial … and hurt like hell when it happened.”

Whittaker was asked if he was concerned about the UFC giving the next shot at Michael Bisping to returning welterweight G.O.A.T. Georges St-Pierre.

“No, not at all,’’ replied Whittaker. “I’ve never worried about what other fighters do and that’s served me well in the past. I just need to get my body healed and, once that happens, I’ll fight anyone in the world. I’ve never shied away from a fight. Ever. And the harder the fight is, the more you get me in — it’s like dangling bait in front of me. But I need to look after my body. I’m young enough to bounce back from a lot of things, but if I don’t look after my body it won’t look after me.”

“I suffered a strain during training [about a month before the fight] and thought it would be sweet. And it might’ve been had Romero not kicked it like he did. So as for when I’m back? My body will be the clock. I took a lot of little niggling injuries into that Romero fight. That’s the problem with taking fights too close together. They were injuries that not only impede your training, but also put you in bloody pain.”

Whittaker has also fought twice with a broken hand, once against Brazil’s Rafael Natal at UFC 197 in April of 2016.

“My hands don’t seem to be a problem right now. They’re something I’ve always got to manage. I think it’s a problem with hitting hard,” he added with a laugh. “But I’m doing the right things, strengthening programs and so on. Everything is fitting together well.”

Michael Bisping is beaming.