UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been discharged from a Melbourne hospital after undergoing emergency surgeries to repair and twisted colon and hernia.
After successful surgeries, Whittaker's manager Titus Day told the Herald the 28-year-old was out of hospital, but would be unable to travel back to his home in Sydney until Monday at the earliest.
"We will be able to assess his recovery time in about four weeks and are looking for him to fight next from June onwards hopefully," Day said.
The New Zealand-born Whittaker was admitted to hospital just hours before he was scheduled to defend his title against American Kelvin Gastelum in the headline fight at UFC 234 in Melbourne on Sunday.
Whittaker was adamant he could still fight until five minutes before he went into surgery, but advice was that a blow to his stomach could be fatal.
Who Whittaker will face when he's back and healthy will be a heated discussion, with both Gastelum and Kiwi star Israel Adesanya vying for the first shot.
Adesanya beat Anderson Silva in what became the headline fight at UFC 234 to become the No.1 contender to Whittaker's belt. However, with Gastelum not getting his scheduled opportunity, it remains to be seen whether the UFC will give him that shot again once Whittaker can fight.
The ailment was the latest in a string of issues for Whittaker. In February 2018 he was forced to withdraw from a title defence in Perth due to illness and was sidelined with a broken hand following his title defence against Yoel Romero last June.
After his withdrawal in Perth, the UFC put an interim belt on the line, however Day said there had been no word from the company about their plans for Whittaker or the division.
"Obviously we hope that there are no plans to strip the belt from him. That would be extremely harsh," Day said.
Should the UFC decide to put up an interim belt while Whittaker is sidelined, Adesanya and Gastelum would likely be the two to fight for the title, with the winner squaring off against Whittaker when he was back to full health.
Speaking after his win against Silva in Melbourne, Adesanya said his next fight would be for the title - regardless of who it was against.
"I'm the guy fighting for the belt," Adesanya said. "I don't care - Kelvin or Rob, who ever it is, I'm fighting for the belt - whoever has the belt ... I'm fighting for the belt next, that's all I know. I did my job, I showed up to work."
View this post on Instagram
Hey guys ! Still kicking. I'm sorry to all my friends, fans and family for not being able to get in there Sunday. Apparently if you get emergency surgeries you can't be cleared to fight. Thanks for the overwhelming support from all my fans I am so blessed to know you guys have my back. A big thanks to my team mates @fabricioitte @alexprates07 @standstrongboxingcoachjustin @justinlang_ep @titusday77 and all the others from behind the scenes you guys were there from start to finish worrying and prioritising my health above all. Lastly to @danawhite and @ufc for the immediate help and support throughout the process of testing and the emergency surgeries. I am blessed I found out when I did and avoided life long consequences. I'll be back better than ever.