With just hours left before showtime, UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been forced to withdraw from his bout with Kelvin Gastelum later tonight (Sat., Feb. 9, 2019) at UFC 234 live on pay-per-vew (PPV) from inside Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, due to a hernia.
Whittaker was expected to defend his 185-pound title for the first time in the main event.
UFC president Dana White broke the news to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
BREAKING NEWS: Robert Whittaker is OUT of his middleweight title defense against Kevin Gastelum. pic.twitter.com/ZfPUEn9YQM— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) February 9, 2019
This is obviously crushing news for a UFC 234 card that already lacked pizzazz outside of the top two fights. After successfully making weight yesterday to make his title fight opposite Gastelum official, Whittaker started to complain about pain in his abdomen and was hospitalized and later diagnosed with a hernia.
Per White, Whittaker will enter surgery today to repair the injury.
Per @danawhite, Robert Whittaker is going into surgery TODAY for the hernia issue that forced him off the card. Obviously, wishing him the best.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) February 9, 2019
As a result of the title shake up, former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s co-main event clash with rising phenom Israel Adesanya will now serve as UFC 234’s headliner. In addition, a lightweight affair between Lando Vannata and Marcos Rosa has been promoted from Fight Pass “Prelims” headliner to the PPV co-main event.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 234 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
Stick with Mania for more news on Whittaker.