While Kelvin Gastelum was rather gracious in an Instagram post shortly after news broke of Rob Whittaker’s injury, he later met for an interview with reporters and declared himself the rightful UFC middleweight champion.
“With much sorrow, I write that my fight for the middleweight title is off,” Gastelum wrote.
“I’m sorry to everyone that was expecting this great fight, family, friends and followers from around the world.
“God has a reason for doing things and I firmly believe his plans are much bigger and better than I can even imagine.
“I’m so torn about this situation. A lifetime of pursuit to be able to reach this level and I hope none of these efforts will go in vain.”
I wish @robwhittakermma a speedy recovery champ! Get well soon!
— #OnAmission4Gold (@KelvinGastelum) February 9, 2019
When he met with reporters, Gastelum had the new UFC belt draped over his shoulder.
He avoided answering any direct questions about who gave him the belt or being officially recognised as champion.
— Oscar Willis (@oscarswillis) February 10, 2019
“This is my belt,” Gastelum said. “I earned this. I showed up, traveled thousands and thousands of miles from home, made the weight.
“In my world, the wrestling world, if the guy shows up and makes the weight, for some reason cancels the bout, the guy forfeits the match. I win. I am the champion.”
Some fans were far from impressed by Gastulem’s antics.
I need to know where Kelvin Gastelum got that belt from.
— Andreas Hale (@AndreasHale) February 10, 2019
Gastelum the little rat walking g around with a belt that he didn’t win. You’re lucky rob pulled out 😅😅 #ufc234
— Chris Briggs (@chrisBriggs933) February 10, 2019
This fool Gastelum walking around with the belt! 😂 Bruh. Who on staff allowed that!? #UFC234
— Fight Thoughts (@fight_thoughts) February 10, 2019
— Annoying Fangirl (@Janai_Day) February 10, 2019
Gastelum needs to give Cejudo his belt back and humble himself. Gotta earn that #UFC234
— Jordan McKenzie (@JordanBoxingMMA) February 10, 2019
If Gastelum just grabbed Cejudo’s belt and is walking around calling himself the champion without at least even fighting in an interim title fight then it’s very embarrassing for him. https://t.co/ZRHdgx73WN
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottliebFOX) February 10, 2019
Is Gastelum really walking around holding the belt? bro….come on #UFC234
— Joe Isola (@JIsola16) February 10, 2019
Is Kevin Gastelum really walking around with his own belt? Get some class. I wonder who would be this douche bags manager #ufc234
— Murph (@RealLifeMurph) February 10, 2019
— Mike J. Bautista (@MikeJBknows) February 10, 2019
‘It could have been fatal’
Earlier, Dana White said the 28-year-old Whittaker, who has a record of 20-4, became ill Saturday night and complained of pain in his abdomen before being diagnosed at a hospital with a hernia.
In a later statement, UFC said Whittaker had undergone emergency surgery due to a “severe abdominal injury.”
Now it’s emerged just how serious the situation was for the 28-year-old Aussie, with White told by doctors that the Aussie risked dying if he stepped into the Octagon.
“He’s in the recovery room. I was with his wife and family,” said White.
“This is one of those freak accidents where the doctor said literally they’ve never seen this type of injury in a young person. This usually happens to old people.
“His bowel and intestines poked through the hole.
“It didn’t happen yesterday after the weigh ins. They think he’s had this problem and it’s been going in and out.
“It’s one of those situations had it popped out during the fight it could have been fatal for him.”