UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker isn’t planning on returning to the Octagon this year.
Whittaker, who broke his hand in a victory over Yoel Romero at UFC 225, is targeting the first quarter of 2019 to defend his title against Kelvin Gastelum. The two will coach on The Ultimate Fighter this year.
“I haven’t even started the rehab process yet,” Whittaker said in an interview with ESPN. “Just more letting it heal first before I can implement that. They put a plate and some screws in (the right hand). Realistically I’m looking at February next year.”
Along with suffering a break in his right hand, Whittaker also tore ligaments in his left hand during the five-round fight. He also spent time on the sidelines at the end of 2017 and earlier this year following another bout with Romero.
“I’m not worried that it’ll have any effect on my performance,” Whittaker said. “I haven’t even reached the peak of my potential. This hard fight is going to mold me and shape me as to how I approach fights from here on. I think everyone has to have their mettle tested in a tough fight. That was one of them for me.”