Just hours before UFC 234 in his home country of Australia, history has sadly repeated itself for Robert Whittaker, who will miss his middleweight title defense in the main event of the show against Kelvin Gastelum. UFC president Dana White confirmed to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on Saturday that Whittaker has been forced to pull out of his title defense in the main event due to a hernia.
This comes one year after Whittaker, in February 2018, was unable to defend his middleweight title against ex-champ Luke Rockhold in Australia due to injury.
Whittaker, who successfully weighed in on Friday, was experiencing pain in his abdomen late last evening and was immediately taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed. White has also confirmed that Whittaker will be heading into surgery today to correct the issue that’s forced this sudden change of events.
Following news of the main event cancellation, Okamoto revealed the revised lineup for the UFC 234 card which now shows the final bout of the evening set to feature former middleweight champ Anderson Silva taking on undefeated Israel Adesanya, which was the scheduled co-main event. We still will be getting what should be a stellar middleweight showcase in the main event with a prominent name attached — it just won’t be contested for the 185-pound title.
Whittaker captured the interim middleweight championship at UFC 213 in July 2017, and he was eventually promoted to undisputed champion after Georges St-Pierre vacated the title later that year. Since then, however, he has not made an official defense of his championship as he’s dealt with injuries, most notably a staph infection that withdrew him from the Rockhold fight. Whittaker did compete in June 2018 against the man he defeated for the interim title, Yoel Romero, though that fight was not contested for Whittaker’s championship due to Romero significantly missing weight.
Unfortunately, we now must wait to see how much longer the 185-pound king will be absent from action with this latest health setback.