A week ago, UFC 275 lost what could be a banger of a middleweight fight. Former champion Robert Whittaker had to withdraw from the said matchup due to an injury, leaving would-be opponent Marvin Vettori without a dance partner.
In a recent interview with Submission Radio, ‘Bobby Knuckles’ didn’t specify his injury but revealed he took a lot of heat for pulling out.
“They were just hammering me,” he said. “It’s like mate, the thing is, and trust me, I was kept up at night tossing and turning knowing I had to make a decision. Like, it was killing me. Honestly, it’s been a rough and stressful period, trying to work out this injury, and still prepare for the fight and everything.
“And then live with the idea that hey, the doctors don’t think I’m going to be ready for this fight. And yeah, it was just stressful. It was stressful, and it was a pain. But what’s sunk with me is that, let’s say I go into the fight half cooked and I lose, no one’s going to care for my excuses. No one. I can’t come out afterward and be like, ‘yeah, but I had this injury’.
“No one’s going to give a crap. All they’re going to care about is that I lost. And yeah, I don’t want to live with myself knowing that I could have done better. So, I’m going to do things the right way, and I just need a little bit more time, heal up, get back in to do a full camp, and then take it to him.”
Whittaker considers the Vettori fight as more of a postponement than a withdrawal on his part. In his eyes, pulling out is a much better option than showing up in subpar shape.
“I want to be able to compete for everybody,” he stated. “It’s just, I had some injuries that I had to heal that just didn’t heal in time, and yeah. It is what it is. I need to go into the fight so that people get the best Rob Whittaker.
“Because nobody wants a crap Rob Whittaker. Everybody loves me when I’m looking my best and putting on my best show, my best performance. So, they can just wait a couple more months.”
“And it’s not like Vettori’s a chump. I would think it’s like the ultimate show of respect, is that I don’t wanna fight Vettori at anything less than 100 percent. He’s only lost to the same dudes that I have.
“He’s up the top of the food chain for a reason, and I need to respect that and take that serious.”
Whittaker (23-6) is coming off a decision loss in a title rematch against Israel Adesanya at UFC 271 in February. Vettori (18-5-1), meanwhile, is fresh off a win against Paulo Costa last October after also losing a title fight to Adesanya at UFC 263 four months prior.