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UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been sidelined for quite some time, but is scheduled to return at UFC 225, where he will rematch Yoel Romero. At the recent UFC 25th Anniversary Press Conference in Brooklyn, New York, he addressed concerns over his health and gave his thoughts on having to rematch Romero.
Whittaker (19-4) hasn't set foot in the Octagon since July of 2017, spending the majority of the time since dealing with injuries and illness. While Whittaker was trying to work around some injuries, a dire battle with illness – namely, infection and chicken pox – is the primary reason he hasn't been able to fight.
“The infection, in the end, just took it out of me. I was really struggling to recover. And then right at the end of the infection, I got the chicken pox,” Whittaker relayed in February. “That’s why I’ve got the scars all over my face, because it was an absolute mess. If anyone’s had it, it’s just horrible.”
In the meantime, Romero (13-2) fought Luke Rockhold for an interim version of the UFC middleweight title. He defeated Rockhold, but was not awarded the belt after having failed to make weight for the fight. Regardless, Romero was still awarded the first shot at Whittaker upon his return.
Though Romero had the fight with Rockhold, for Whittaker, the bout is a de facto immediate rematch. Romero is the fighter Whittaker defeated at UFC 213 last July to win the interim UFC middleweight title. He was elevated to undisputed champion when Georges St-Pierre, who had defeated Michael Bisping for the belt, vacated it upon being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.