Robert Whittaker has revealed the brutal cost of his breathtaking win over Yoel Romero at UFC 225 following a trip to hospital.
The Australian took home a $100,000 ‘fight of the night’ bonus after defeating his opponent in a split decision in what was more like the fight of the year.
He fought the final four rounds with a busted right hand, which by the end left him with no feeling up to his elbow.
And now an x-ray has confirmed the damage to his thumb:
Whittaker, carrying an ice pack, was in an ambulance almost immediately after leaving the octagon.
As courageous as the victory was, the injury is a blow to the 27-year-old’s burgeoning career.
He is yet to officially defend his middleweight championship – he was forced to pull out of a defence in February, and Romero missed weight to downgrade their fight to a non-title bout – and now he will be out for some time.
Whenever the Sydneysider returns, respected Yahoo Sports combat writer Kevin Iole expects it to be a boon for the star fighter and the UFC.
Whittaker delivers, set for blockbuster future
IOLE: His victory featured a fast-pace and brilliant action was made all the more remarkable by the fact that Whittaker couldn’t use his primary weapon, his right hand, for most of the fight.
“In the first round, I busted my hand and I cannot feel it up to my elbow,” Whittaker said.
He absorbed huge shots from Romero, who is hardly a classic striker but whose sheer physical power puts a lot of wallop on his punches. Romero knocked out ex-champion Luke Rockhold in February, showing the kind of power that can end a fight in a blink.
He landed against Whittaker, but Whittaker took whatever he had. Nothing was going to stop Whittaker, even though he conceded he knew what he was up against.
“Yoel hits like a truck and I just had to try and survive and make the comeback,” Whittaker said.
Whittaker hasn’t been mentioned as a potential successor to Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey as the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw. Since Rousey’s retirement to become a wrestler and McGregor’s extended absence, the UFC has been looking for that fighter who it could put on a card and almost guarantee a huge pay-per-view number.
The talent level up and down its roster is probably better than it has ever been, but no one has broken through yet.
Whittaker, after yet another impressive and exciting win, might be on that path. He certainly got White’s attention, who responded to a question about Whittaker’s lack of a fan base by saying, “He’s got a lot of fans in Australia.”
Whittaker, though, may be about to expand beyond his home country given his fan-friendly style, his frequent improvement and his refusal to give up.
“If he keeps fighting like he fought tonight, it’s going to go up quick,” White said of Whittaker’s star value.
He’s had all sorts of bad luck. He injured the knee in his fight with Romero last year, then missed a bout in February when he had first a staph infection and later chicken pox. If his broken hand keeps him out any length of time, it’s going to be a heartbreaker, because one can see him developing into an elite fighter as well as a star in front of our eyes.
He gave the card the fight it needed after its stomach-turning opener involving CM Punk. I suspect, though, it won’t be the last great fight we see him in. The ability to remain healthy is his only serious question mark.
But when he fights, do yourself a favour and make sure you watch Robert Whittaker. It’s everything that makes fans love MMA in the first place.