The MMA world was thrown for a last-minute loop earlier today (Sat., Feb. 9, 2019) when it was announced that UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will not be defending his 185-pound this evening against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia, after suffering an injured hernia overnight.
The fallout is considerably significant because UFC 234’s pay-per-view (PPV) main card was lackluster to begin with, leaving the Aussie fans with little to get excited about. As a result of Whittaker’s removal, Anderson Silva vs. Israel Adesanya, which was originally slated as the co-main event, will now serve as UFC 234’s headlining act.
As you may have guessed, Whittaker’s injury has already sparked much conversation among the busy MMA social media fingers. Gastelum, who was expecting to compete in his first ever UFC title shot, offered the following statement via Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
With much sorrow I write that my fight for the middleweight title is off. I’m sorry to everyone that was expecting this great fight, Family , friends and followers from around the world. God has a reason for doing things and I firmly believe his plans are much bigger and better than I can even imagine. I’m so torn about this situation. A lifetime of pursuit to be able to reach this level and I hope none of these efforts will go in vain. #andnew #OnAmission4Gold
“With much sorrow I write that my fight for the middleweight title is off,” wrote Gastelum. “I’m sorry to everyone that was expecting this great fight, Family , friends and followers from around the world. God has a reason for doing things and I firmly believe his plans are much bigger and better than I can even imagine. I’m so torn about this situation. A lifetime of pursuit to be able to reach this level and I hope none of these efforts will go in vain. #andnew #OnAmission4Gold“
The rest of the combat community weighed in via Twitter:
FUUUUUUUUUUUCK!— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) February 9, 2019
BREAKING | Robert Whittaker out of UFC 234 title fight main event | https://t.co/4Kr0nDISzk https://t.co/xx59n6PfbV
On ESPN Radio, @ChaelSonnen tells @arielhelwani that Bellator has given him permission to step in and face Anderson Silva if the UFC wants to do Kelvin Gastelum vs. Israel Adesanya.— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) February 9, 2019
Chael says that he requires a mouthpiece, gloves and an XXXL size cup.
Sometimes in this sport everyone loses. Best wishes to champ @robwhittakermma and his family shout outs to @KelvinGastelum for being a good man about it all Fans when theres a bad surprise that makes room for some good ones. Im still watching #UFC234 who you got Spider or StyleB?— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) February 9, 2019
Who cares if @RobWhittakermma's intestine is stuck in his abdominal muscle and that @KelvinGastelum is a vile, disgusting leper. Uncle @DanaWhite is giving you guys a f@!k'n opportunity, You gotta answer the call!!! #ufc234— Colby Covington (@ColbyCovMMA) February 9, 2019
Just checked my weight, I’m 190. Fuck it, put me in @danawhite. #ufc234— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) February 9, 2019
Well I’m in Australia @danawhite “ I know a guy!! “— Cowboy Cerrone (@Cowboycerrone) February 9, 2019
I’m disappointed. I was really looking forward to the Gastelum/Whittaker fight tonight at #UFC234. Hope you’re alright @robwhittakermma. I feel for you @KelvinGastelum and all the fans in Australia.— Chris Weidman (@chrisweidman) February 9, 2019
If I wasn’t on the other side of the world, https://t.co/tiYRuuC0FJ— michael (@bisping) February 9, 2019
Was Robert Whittaker helping a friend move the night before a title fight? This is so bizarre.— RJ Clifford (@RJcliffordMMA) February 9, 2019
I have a big feeling Israel is going to relish and take full advantage of tonight’s opportunity #UFC234 #mainevent— Eryk Anders (@erykanders) February 9, 2019
Anderson Silva tonight will become the first fighter in history to headline 20 different UFC cards. The circumstances are nuts, but that's an incredible achievement. #UFC234— Mike Bohn (@MikeBohnMMA) February 9, 2019
Whyyyyy Whittaker why?!?! #UFC234— Jessica Penne (@JessicaPenne) February 9, 2019
I’m extremely pissed at Bobby’s hernia— A1 Iaquinta (@ALIAQUINTA) February 9, 2019
Oh, CRIKEY! that sucks for the Aussie champ and the #UFC234 card on home turf. #smh #whycantwehavenicethings https://t.co/FJWBQxaTp1— The Mane Event™ (@EliasTheodorou) February 9, 2019
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 7:00 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.