Recovered UFC champ Whittaker eyes GC2018
Little over a month ago a shot at Commonwealth Games history was the last thing on Rob Whittaker's mind.
Bedridden in a serious condition, the chance to become the first active UFC champion to compete at a Games was no longer top of the agenda.
Just returning to his successful mixed martial arts career seemed a stretch.
Whittaker's two months from hell started in October with a hamstring injury, soon overshadowed by a staph infection in his stomach which, after initial mistreatment, started to attack other organs.
"That got out of control," Whittaker told AAP.
"Then I started turning a corner but the antibiotics dropped my immune system quite significantly and on the back of that I got chicken pox.
"The chicken pox was by far the worst, way worse than the staph - it was a nightmare.
"At that point competing was the least of my worries ... I'm happy to still be here."
Not only did the health emergency put Whittaker's Commonwealth Games wrestling aspirations in jeopardy, it also stopped him defending his undisputed UFC middleweight title against Luke Rockhold in Perth last month.
The trade-off was being present for the birth of his third child but the Gold Coast Games carrot was dangling and lost fitness needed to be regained.
"I was out for two months literally not doing anything because I was bedridden," he said.
"That's going to have an impact on anyone, especially someone like myself who usually keeps themselves in pretty good shape year round.
"But I've come back into the swing of things and I'm raring to go."
Whittaker took up freestyle wrestling in 2015 to give him an edge in UFC and jumped at a chance to represent his country in the sport.
The 27-year-old Sydneysider will contest the 97kg division next month, headlining an eight-strong team also featuring Glasgow 2014 competitors Rupinder Kaur (women's 50kg), Carissa Holland (women's 53kg), Mehrdad Tarash (men's 65kg) and Jayden Lawrence (men's 86kg).
It should double as preparation for his unconfirmed UFC title defence against Cuban Yoel Romero, mooted for June this year.
For now, though, there's only one concern.
"Getting fit and strong for the Games," Whittaker said.
"I'm not thinking past that. Everything else is inconsequential.
"I would love (win gold) to but there are a bunch of other dudes solely going in there to make sure I don't."
Tickets for Rob Whittaker's session are selling fast. Buy your tickets today.