Normally the morning of a large UFC PPV event, fans can sit in relief, as everyone competing would have already gone through the weight-cutting process and weighed-in, dropped out due to injury or a slue of other unfortunate events, forcing the UFC to find replacements, etc. but not today.
First reported by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Robert Whittaker has been forced to pull out of his main-event middleweight title fight with Kelvin Gastelum due to an abdominal hernia.
BREAKING NEWS: Robert Whittaker is OUT of his middleweight title defense against Kevin Gastelum. pic.twitter.com/ZfPUEn9YQM— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) February 9, 2019
According to Okamoto and Ariel Helwani, also from ESPN, Whittaker was complaining of abdominal pain late last night, leading to vomiting around 10:00pm local time (Melbourne, Australia). At 2:00am the reigning middleweight champion, who has more recently been dominating the 185lbs division was taken to the hospital, where he underwent a series of tests and scans. He is now in surgery.
UFC 234 will go on, now headlined by what was the co-main event; Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva vs. ‘The Last Stylebender’ Israel Adesanya, which was confirmed to be a no. 1 contender bout.
Prior to the loss of the main-event, had Whittaker and Adesanya both walked out the victors at tonight pay-per-view, it would set up a Australia vs. New Zealand middleweight championship clash, which many assume would take place in either of those locations, maximizing ticket and PPV sales. For that potential match-up, we will now have to wait just a little longer.
Whittaker last fought in June of 2018, where he was set to defend his 185lbs title, but ended up fighting in a non-title main-event, which was a product of Yoel Romero missing weight. He was victorious, becoming 2-0 against the Cuban native.
Here is your new UFC 234 lineup:
- Anderson Silva vs. Israel Adesanya
- Rani Yahya vs. Ricky Simon
- Montana De La Rosa vs. Nadia Kassem
- Jim Crute vs. Sam Alvey
- Devonte Smith vs. Dong Hyun Ma
- Shane Young vs. Austin Arnett
- Kai Kara France vs. Raulian Paiva
- Teruto Ishihara vs. Kyung Ho Kang
- Lando Vannata vs. Marcos Mariano
- Jalin Turner vs. Callan Potter
- Wuliji Buren vs. Jonathan Martinez
(photo credit: SB Nastion)