Former UFC champion Robert Whittaker has walked away from his first mixed martial arts fight since losing his world title to reportedly donate bone marrow to his sick daughter.
Whittaker, who lost the middleweight belt to Israel Adesanya last October - was set to face Jared Cannonier at UFC 248 in March as he looked to bounce back.
But the 29-year-old cancelled the fight last week, saying "there are a few other things going on in my life that I need to give priority to and sort out, so I have had to change my plans".
While Whittaker didn't go into detail about the situation, The Sun reports the Auckland-born Australian fighter withdrew so he could donate bone marrow to his two-year-old daughter, Lilliana.
UFC boss Dana White didn't confirm the news but said Whittaker's decision was "unselfish" and "selfless" - big words considering the promoter has very publicly in the past made known his annoyance with late withdrawals from fights.
“That’s personal for Whittaker. If Whittaker wants to talk about that, he can," White told Submission Radio.
“But I’ll tell you this, when you talk about somebody whose priorities are in the right place, who is completely selfless and down to the core a good human being, that’s Robert Whittaker.
“The reason Robert Whittaker is not fighting in this fight is one of the most unselfish things I’ve seen in my life.
“He’s a good man, he’s a good human being, and I have a lot of respect for him. Good luck to him in what he’s dealing with right now.
“I can’t put into words and articulate how I feel about Robert Whittaker. He’s the real deal, man.”
British middleweight Darren Till wil replace Whittaker at UFC 248, which coincidentally is where Adesanya will defend his title for the first time against Yoel Romero.