Fighters are often too tough and resilient for their own long-term health. So, when one of them gets knocked out or stopped and appears eager to jump right back into competition, it can be worrisome.
Robert Whittaker was stopped by Israel Adesanya on Saturday in the main event of UFC 243 in Australia and afterward promised reporters that he was fine physically and mentally, and that he planned to be back in action sooner than later. “Obviously, I’m disappointed. But I took the fight to him. Me and him are two of the best strikers in the world. We went tit for tat, and then I got caught. It happens,” he said.
“He beat me tonight. But I’m 28. This is my first loss in the division. Trust me when I say I’m not going anywhere.”
Whittaker didn’t sound like he’d turn down a rematch to try and immediately retrieve the middleweight crown he lost to Adesanya, but more than any particular opponent, he sounded intent on fighting again, period. “Obviously I’m always down for a rematch,” he said with a laugh.
“I’m on the market. I’m here to fight. I’m back to work. I felt great out there. I felt great tonight. This is the best I’ve ever been. Honest to God, this is the best I’ve ever been. It just wasn’t my night. I got caught and that’s just what happens.”
Whittaker has been plagued by a slew of injuries and other illnesses in recent years, leading to considerable gaps between fights. Though he’ll still have to deal with the repercussions of sustaining concussive trauma at UFC 243, he seems to believe that he’s pretty good-to-go, otherwise.
In addition to his slew of injuries and surgeries, Whittaker opened up on his “Grange TV” podcast leading up to this last bout that he suffers from depression. “It’s subtle, and it’s sneaky. And it creeps in. It starts slow. You don’t want to go out, or you don’t feel like training,” he said of how depression begins to seep in for him.
In that context, it is also promising that Whittaker is speaking an affirmative type of language immediately after his loss. He admitted to sinking into depressive spirals after losses in the past where he was uninterested in doing things he loved and where relationships with loved ones were strained.
Whittaker certainly needs to rest after getting his head rattled at UFC 243. Brain trauma does not help battles with depression, after all.
Still, if he can rest his brain a bit while not dwelling on disappointment, and while looking toward a future he sees as bright, and also dig into work that he loves, that sounds like a promising balance for the warrior.
“It was injury and illness that kept me from the Octagon. But thank God I’m not injured,” he continued.
“I took the loss, I got clipped, but I’m healthy. I’m good. So I’m going to go home, see my family, I’m going to get back to training, I’m going to do my podcast, I’m going to do my gap program, and I’m coming back. I’m coming back to work in a couple months.”
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