The "people's main event" has become the official main event at UFC 234 in Melbourne after middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was forced to withdraw from the card with a hernia. He later informed Okamoto that Whittaker would be going into surgery Saturday (North American time) to take care of the hernia.
Whittaker reportedly complained of pain in his abdomen around midnight of the previous night and was soon taken to the hospital.
The loss of Whittaker, who is on a nine-fight win streak, will certainly be a massive disappointment for many fans with UFC 234 tickets.
Other fights on the UFC 234 main card include Rani Yahya vs. Ricky Simon (Bantamweight), Montana De La Rosa vs. Nadia Kassem (Women Flyweight) and Jim Crute vs. Sam Alvey (Light Heavyweight).
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It marks the second time Whittaker has been forced to withdraw from a scheduled title fight down under, after a range of injuries kept him from fighting Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in Perth past year.
With next to no time to find a replacement for Whittaker all the way out in Australia, UFC 234 turned to its old superstar in Silva to headline the event.
Those plans will now be delayed, given Gastelum is next in line for a title shot before the victor of the Adesanya-Silva showdown.
Elevated to the co-main is the lightweight matchup between Albuquerque action hero Lando Vannata and surging Brazilian Marcos Mariano.
The Sydney-based star has experienced a horror run of injuries and illness throughout his career, including a gruesome abscess infection which forced him to pull out of UFC 221 in 2018.
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