Whittaker out until 2019 with hand injury

Robert Whittaker will not fight again this year after revealing the full extent of a hand injury suffered last month.

The UFC middleweight champion damaged his hand during the first round of his five-round bout with Yoel Romero at UFC 225, although he was able to finish the contest, earning a split decision win.

Whittaker (20-4) broke his right hand in the bout, which was a non-title affair after Romero missed weight.

Speaking to Ariel Helwani, Whittaker said he expects to be out of action for at least six months.

“I haven’t even started the rehab process yet,” Whittaker said. “Just more letting it heal first before I can implement that. They put a plate and some screws in (on the right hand). Realistically I’m looking at February next year.”

Whittaker, along with Kelvin Gastelum, was recently announced as one of the coaches for the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter”.

The two are then expected to fight as part of the season finale, with Whittaker adding that his hand will no longer be an issue by then.

“I’m not worried that it’ll have any effect on my performance,” he says. “I haven’t even reached the peak of my potential. This hard fight is going to mould me and shape me as to how I approach fights from here on.

“I think everyone has to have their mettle tested in a tough fight. That was one of them for me.”