Whittaker Medically Cleared for Return

Following his emergency surgery that forced him out of UFC 234, UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker has been cleared to return to training without limitations, his manager, Titus Day, tells ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.

Whittaker was scheduled to defend his title against Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC 234 but was forced off the card mere hours before the event’s start due to a hernia.

According to Day, Whittaker still needs to get in shape, but he hopes the middleweight champ can return in August. It’s expected that the Australian UFC champion will fight the winner of UFC 236’s interim middleweight title fight between Gastelum and Israel Adesanya.

Sources tell Helwani if Adesanya, a native of New Zealand, where Whittaker was born, pulls off the win, the UFC will look to book the two at an event in Australia. However, a Gastelum win would likely mean the pair would be booked to face one another in the U.S.

Whittaker hasn’t made an official defense of the middleweight title since becoming interim champion at UFC 213 before being elevated to full-time champion in December 2017, following George St Pierre’s surrendering of the UFC 185-pound title. Whittaker was booked to face Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 last year but was forced out due to a staph infection that went bad.

Whittaker was then booked to defend in the main event of UFC 225 against Yoel Romero, who defeated Rockhold at UFC 221 in an interim title fight but missed weight. Romero also missed weight for the UFC 225 fight, forcing the bout to become a five-round non-title clash. Whittaker controversially won the rematch, called Fight of the Year for 2018, by decision.

Original Story: ESPN

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