There remains little information regarding the reason for Robert Whittaker’s withdrawal from UFC 248 last week, but it’s clear that Dana White holds the former middleweight champion in high regard following his decision.
“That's personal for Whittaker,” the UFC president recently told Submission Radio. “If Whittaker wants to talk about that he can, but I'll tell you this: when you talk about somebody whose priorities are in the right place, who is completely selfless, and down to the core a good human being, that's Robert Whittaker.
"The reason Robert Whittaker is not fighting in this fight, is one of the most unselfish things I've ever seen in my life. He's a good man, he's a good human being. I have a lot of respect for him and good luck to him and what he's dealing with right now. I can't put into words and articulate how I feel about Robert Whittaker. He's the real deal.”
Whittaker released a brief statement following his exit from a proposed bout with Jared Cannonier, which was scheduled for March 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“I'm sorry to all my friends, supporters and family for not being able to fight in March. A lot has happened over the 12 last months and I need to take some time now to be with my family, slow things down and to refocus,” Whittaker wrote. “Sorry to everyone again but I'll be back. The best is yet to come.”
White didn’t have a timetable for Whittaker’s return. “The Reaper” last appeared at UFC 243 in October, when he relinquished his title to Israel Adesanya.
"He's dealing with some personal issues and what he's doing and how he's handling it, I have so much respect for him," White said.