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10 February 2019, 03:38 | Elsie Buchanan
UFC 234: Robert Whittaker pulls out of middleweight title fight at last minute
"Due to a severe abdominal injury requiring emergency surgery, UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been forced to withdraw from his UFC 234 main event against Kelvin Gastelum", the release said. In the co-main event Israel Adesanya looks to collect even more hype by finishing Anderson "The Spider" Silva.
UFC president Dana White told ESPN that Whittaker complained of pain in his abdomen late Saturday night (Australian time) and was taken to a local hospital.
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.
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Making his debut in Australia, former longtime middleweight champion Silva will attempt to move one step closer to regaining his crown when he tackles dynamic striker Adesanya, the UFC's breakout star of 2018, in a bout with title implications.
Earlier this week, White had said the winners of the Whittaker-Gastelum and Adesanya-Silva fights would meet later this year.
"With much sorrow I write that my fight for the middleweight title is off", wrote Gastelum.
The cancellation of the bout poses the question of whether or not Gastelum will get the first shot at Whittaker's belt when he returns from injury, with the victor of the fight between Adesanya and Silva guaranteed a title shot.
On Twitter, Gastelum also wished Whittaker well in his recovery.
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