UFC 234 was an attractive even with Whittaker facing Kelvin Gastelum for the middleweight title and Adesanya/Silva vying for the right to fight the victor, but Whittaker's exit has turned the event on its head.
The Kiwi-born Whittaker was scheduled to fight American Kelvin Gastelum over five rounds today at Rod Laver Arena, but the fight has been pulled from the card.
Anderson Silva, a former UFC middleweight champion, and rising contender Israel Adesanya have been elevated into the main event role for the night. Whittaker was forced into emergency surgery while UFC 234 lost its hometown hero for the second straight attempt on Australian land.
He's fought hard to get to a title shot, and it's understandable he would be a little miffed at this last-minute pullout from Whittaker.More news: Rights groups urge Thailand to release Hakeem Al-Araibi
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The 28-year-old was scheduled to defend his belt against Yoel Romero at UFC 225, but the fight was changed to a non-title bout after Romero missed weight.
The new co-main is the lightweight matchup between Lando Vannata and Marcos Mariano.
Silva (34-8-0, 1 NC), one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in UFC history who held the middleweight title for seven years between 2006 and 2013, has not stepped foot in the octagon since his win over Derek Brunson at UFC 208 in 2017.