Recently the UFC announced that Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum are going to coach TUF 28, and fight when the show is done. But, as it turns out, the middleweight championship fight won’t take place this year.

Why is that? Well, you likely recall that Whittaker broke his hand in his UFC 225 bout with Yoel Romero last month, which he won via split decision. But, in a recent talk with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, the middleweight champ revealed that the injury will keep him sidelined for the rest of 2018.

“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.”

“I’m not worried that it’ll have any effect on my performance. I haven’t even reached the peak of my potential. This hard fight is going to mold 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.”

So, this unfortunate news for fans and the UFC, as the promotion would have likely loved to have another championship bout in play for 2018, Q4.

Whittaker also reported that he damaged a ligament in his left hand as well, during his rematch with Romero. So, when you consider his hand injuries, plus what a war that fight was, maybe it’s better if the rising star does have some extra time on the sidelines?

And this revelation from Whittaker comes not long after Gastelum himself, questioned whether the champ will be the same, as a result of what went down in the Romero battles (quote via MMA Mania):

“I don’t know if he’s going to be the same fighter after these fights,” Kelvin Gastelum said in a media scrum. “These wars that he’s been in, it takes a toll on the body, so we’ll see how he comes out after this hand surgery.”

Hopefully Whittaker’s recovery goes well, and we get to see Whittaker – Gastelum in Q1, 2019.