Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker ruled out for title defense fight

11 February, 2019, 03:11 | Author: Cecil Buchanan
  • Kiwi Israel Adesanya will now be headlining UFC 234 in Melbourne on Sunday against Anderson Silva

The Silva-Adesanya showdown was set to be a showcase for Adesanya, a star on the rise who has taken MMA by storm in his year in the UFC. He is seeking his second defense and first on home soil.

Previously, UFC officials had stated the victor of the new main event between Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva would be declared the No. 1 contender.

Gastelum was set to face UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in the card's main event Sunday (Australian time).

In the final five minutes of the fight, Adesanya surged ahead with a stronger showing on his feet while blasting Silva with several low kicks to the thigh.

"This is like if I played basketball and I played Michael Jordan", Adesanya said in tribute to Silva following the bout.

Silva, 43, threw all of his old tricks at the 29-year-old phenom, but they all came up short. Sometimes it's not in your control.

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Adesanya has been chasing a trans-Tasman fight with Whittaker and the Nigerian-born fighter was booed by the Australian crowd when he referenced Whittaker as "not turning up to work".

Whittaker's opponent Kelvin Gastelum arrived to the event with a new UFC belt over his shoulder, presumably belonging to his friend, flyweight champion Henry Cejudo who was on hand for the event and declared himself the new champion, referring to amateur wrestling rules where an opponent forfeits if they do not show up after weighing in. "Player one has the controller and I showed up".

When asked if the company would return to New Zealand either this year or in 2020, White said the success of the Kiwi athletes made the decision an easy one.

Whittaker is expected to be out of action for around four to six weeks as he recovers from his surgery and although there's no fight plan now in place, White has ruled out the possibility of him being stripped of his belt.

"He had abdominal pain and was finally taken to the hospital by the UFC at 1am and was trying everything to remain in the fight, refusing any treatment that would force him out of the fight", Prates said. "This is my heart. Hopefully, I'll fight in Curitiba". I'm fighting for the belt next that's all I know.

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