Robert Whittaker Cites “Burnout” As Reason For UFC 248 Withdrawal

Photo Credit: @robwhittakermma

Robert Whittaker has broken his silence on his withdrawal from UFC 248, which was announced in January.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Whittaker said that he was in the middle of running up a sand dune for a Christmas Day workout when “everything crashed.” He realized that it was Christmas and his family was “somewhere else” while he was climbing a sand dune. Whittaker then took a big step away from the fight game, withdrawing from his fight against Jared Cannonier at UFC 248.

Reports began to come in saying that Whittaker’s absence was to donate bone marrow to his young daughter, but the fighter denied the claims, saying that all of his kids are fine now and were fine then.

What really happened, he says, is that he simply got burned out. He had been training hard for years, saying that he’s missed weddings, birthdays, and even funerals for the sake of his fight career. He realized on the sand dune that he couldn’t continue at the pace he was moving, so he told his team that he needed a break. He remembers his mental struggles starting as far back as June 2018 when he defeated Yoel Romero after fighting 25 minutes with a broken hand. The pressure of the fight and additional stress surrounding his injured hand took a lot out of him.

Despite the pressure, Whittaker says he pushed forward because he didn’t want to let people down. “You can’t say, ‘Hey, maybe I’m burnt out. As soon as one fight is over, you have another title fight on the way. So the negative thoughts, you block them out. You bite down on your mouthguard and work through. And physically, we were training at an intellectual level, with loads and spreadsheets, lighter sessions that involved stretching. But again, mentally I was burnt out. And you can only do that so long before you wind up in a fight below your mental best.”

Whittaker carried his internal struggle into the Octagon with him when he faced off and lost against Israel Adesanya in October.

Whittaker also says that he took a break from social media after announcing his withdrawal from the fight, which is why his dad had to inform him of the bone marrow donation rumors. Whittaker says that he had informed the UFC of the reason for his withdrawal, but hadn’t spoken directly to Dana White about it.

Now, Whittaker says that he’s adjusted his training regimen to be effective while still giving him time with his family, also changing up the people on his team.

There’s no word yet on when we’ll next see Whittaker in the Octagon, but he’s hopefully getting all the time he needs with his family.


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