Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker ruled out for title defense fight

Jim Crute UFC 234 Image Jim Crute on Instagram Reebok Australia
Charles Bowen | 10 February, 2019, 01:43

Australia's own Robert Whittaker will defend the middleweight title against Kelvin Gastelum in the evening's main event.

Whittaker reportedly complained of pain in his abdomen around midnight of the previous night and was soon taken to the hospital.

He later said Whittaker would be undergoing surgery on Sunday for the problem.

UFC president Dana White revealed the news to ESPN on Saturday after Whittaker pulled out of the fight.

With next to no time to find a replacement for Whittaker in the Australian showpiece, UFC 234 will now likely feature a fight between Anderson Silva and Israel Adesanya as the main event.

ESPN's Ariel Helwani does not paint a pretty picture of what occurred that night, with Whittaker now in surgery. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass, the UFC's digital streaming network.

More news: Donald Cerrone Claims Conor McGregor Fight Planned For Summer, Expects Knockout

The UFC is back in Australia for today's UFC 234 event.

It marks the second time Whittaker has been forced to withdraw from a scheduled title fight down under, after a range of injuries kept him from fighting Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in Perth previous year.

He is a heavy favorite going up against the 43-year old Silva, who has not fought in two years, and a victory should catapult the entertaining Style Bender into the main event scene.

New Zealand UFC middleweight Israel Adesanya earned his stripes in the octagon a year ago though he is yet to be respected as a fighter in his own right.

The loss of Whittaker will certainly be a massive disappointment for many fans with UFC 234 tickets.

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