Robert Whittaker has broken the silence as to why he pulled out of UFC 248 on March 7.
When Whittaker pulled out rumors came out that it was to do with his family. Yet, that is not the case as speaking to the Daily Telegraph “The Reaper” revealed he was just burnt out as the reason why he pulled out from the event.
“I just stopped,” Whittaker said. “Then stood there, asking ‘what the f**k am I doing?’ It was Christmas Day. My family was somewhere else. That moment, it’s when everything crashed.”
Robert Whittaker saw the success of his training by becoming a UFC champion. Yet, he says he became depressed after having to constantly train and miss out on birthdays, holidays, and even funerals.
“It was crazy,” Whittaker said. “And every time I missed an event, or had to leave early, whenever I trained through Easter, or ran Wanda dunes on another Christmas Day, each one became like suffering a knock.
“Every time it was another knock, another knock, another knock… I was completely burnt out.
“And walking back to the car afterwards, I told myself that what I was doing, it wasn’t normal,” Whittaker continued. “That I couldn’t keep going like that. So after arriving home, I got straight on the phone to my team, who had been at Wanda with me, and said ‘everything is paused until I work out how to stop feeling this way.’”
He says he was never home to be with his wife and kids and eventually it caught up to him.
Ultimately, he never gave a reason as to why he pulled out but now says his mental health was more important than fighting.
“You can’t say ‘hey, maybe I’m burnt out,’” Whittaker said. “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.”
In the end, he makes it clear it had nothing to do with his kids health. But, the most important thing for him is he can now be there for his family and play his kids.
“And not having those sessions, it means I can do things Saturday night too,” Whittaker said. “Same as I’m now playing with the kids late into Sunday afternoon rather than being completely spent.
“The changes I’ve made, it really will change my life. Not training to exhaustion every day, I guess you can say I’m living.”