Robert Whittaker has been forced out of his middleweight title defense against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 to undergo surgery for a hernia in his abdomen.
UFC President Dana White confirmed the news to ESPN on Saturday. Whittaker experienced pain in his abdomen late last night and was taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a hernia. The issue is not believed to be related to his weight cut.
As a result, the middleweight co-main event between Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva will be elevated to the new UFC 234 headliner. Adesanaya vs. Silva will remain a three-round contest. A lightweight clash between Lando Vannata and Marcos Rosa Mariano that was originally scheduled for the Fight Pass prelims has been moved to the pay-per-view lineup.
UFC 234 takes place at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. Injury also forced Whittaker to pull out of his last scheduled title defense in Australia, a UFC 221 clash against Luke Rockhold. “The Reaper” last appeared at UFC 225 in June, where he captured a five-round split decision against Yoel Romero for his ninth consecutive triumph.