UFC star Robert Whittaker’s bizarre disappearance: ‘Everything crashed’

UFC star Robert Whittaker’s bizarre disappearance: ‘Everything crashed’

Robert Whittaker gave up so much to become a UFC middleweight champion. Eventually, he realized he was sacrificing his life and “everything crashed.”

Explaining a mysterious four-month disappearance and withdrawal from a UFC 248 bout against Jared Cannonier, Whittaker said that the never-ending training which enabled him to achieve fame and wealth ultimately caused him to “burn out” and suffer from depression.

“I sacrificed everything,” Whittaker told The Daily Telegraph. “My team suggested several plans which I took to, and because it worked, I just kept at it. But you can’t keep doing that forever. You just can’t.”

In addition to the physical toll of training seven days a week — with as many as five sessions per day over the past five years — the married, 29-year-old father of three stressed the devastating toll of spending so much time away from his loved ones.

“I just wasn’t home,” Whittaker said. “Because of my training schedule, I was missing birthdays, weddings, funerals …It was crazy.”

Even crazier, to Whittaker, were the unfounded reports that he stepped away from the sport to donate bone marrow for his daughter.

“During the break, I got off all social media to spend time with family, so it was my old man who actually contacted me, explaining there was this crazy rumor going around,” Whittaker said. “And from there, it just got a life of its own. But my kids were all fine. They are fine. It was me who had the issue.”

robert whittaker sofia wife ufc disappearance
Robert Whittaker and wife Sofia.Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Whittaker revealed he’s battled depression since he was a teenager.

“I just wasn’t myself,” the Australian said. “I was completely burnt out….I told myself that what I was doing, it wasn’t normal. That I couldn’t keep going like that….[I] said ‘Everything is paused until I work out how to stop feeling this way.’”

Reaching that decision came after years of forcing himself to do something simply because he was so good at it. After Whittaker collapsed before a 2019 title fight with Kevin Gastelum and required three emergency surgeries for a twisted bowel, he felt even more pressure to perform.

“I was out of the Octagon, but working twice as hard because I felt like I’d let a lot of people down,” Whittaker said. “So while I wasn’t fighting, I never rested.”

And he never told his family, friends or coaches.

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