MELBOURNE, Australia – Robert Whittaker has provided most of the first plays in UFC 234 in Australia and Israel in the very end of Adesanya.
About eight hours before their scheduled clash, the UFC middleweight champion in Australia, Whittaker, withdrew from the league's defense against Kelvin Gastelum due to a serious injury to the abdomen and a subsequent emergency intervention due to of a perforated hernia.
This led to the highly anticipated match n ° 1 of the contest between the growing star of New Zealand Adesayna and the Brazilian veteran Anderson Silva (34-9) at the main event of the sold-out Rod Laver Arena card.
In a uniform fight during the first two rounds, Adesayna beat the first shot – a kick outside Silva's leg – then followed him with a kick to his opponent's right thigh, but Silva fought with two shots to Adesayna's chin . Despite the late flurry, Adesayna seemed to have taken the first round marginally.
It seemed that Silva had won the second round and the Brazilian climbed into the crowd to start the third and final round. But Adesayna, now 16-0, dominated the third by a unanimous decision, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 according to the judges' papers.
"This is like, for a child, if I played basketball against Michael Jordan … that's all for me," said Adesanya. "Anderson, thank you, you did it for a long time, my friend, I appreciate you."
After the fight, Silva was heard to say to Adesanya: "I pass the baton on you".
"I'm very happy, guys, thank God, for giving me one more chance to come here and do my best, I love my job," said Silva in the front row during the presentations.
Adesanya, a 29-year-old Nigerian, is considered one of the contenders for the highest UFC title, with a spectacular fighting style that resembles many of the forty-four Silva.
Also high on paper was the light encounter between the American Lando Vannata and the Brazilian Marcos Mariano, who Vannata won by submission towards the end of the first round. Vannata improved to 10-3, two for no race, while Mariano fell to 6-5.
UFC president Dana White said the 28-year-old born in New Zealand Whittaker, who has a 20-4 record, got sick on Saturday night and complained of abdominal pain before being diagnosed in a hospital with a hernia. White said that Whittaker could be dead if he went to the ring with such an injury.
In a subsequent statement, UFC stated that Whittaker underwent urgent surgery due to a "severe abdominal lesion".
Whittaker manager Titus Day said that Whittaker reported some problems around 6:00 pm for the first time. on Saturday.
"Rob said it was a little swollen and a bit tired that it's not uncommon when you're going through the process they are going through, reloading and putting a little bit of food in your body," he declared Day to the Australian Associated Press.
"Then around 10 o'clock we received a call from (Whittaker's wife) Sofia who says she has stomach cramps and is suffering a lot and can not sleep … she arrived at the stage around three o'clock in the morning where she was brought in the hospital. "
Gastelum tweeted with "much regret" that the fight was over.
I hope that @robwhittakermma a quick recovery champion! Get well soon!
– # OnAmission4Gold (@KelvinGastelum) 9 February 2019
Tickets for the 15,000-seat arena are sold out in eight minutes. UFC has offered full refunds due to the cancellation of the main period.
It marks the second time that Whittaker has been forced to retire from a title fight in Australia. The injuries prevented him from fighting Luke Rockhold at UCFC 221 in Perth last year.
At the beginning of this week, White had declared that the winners of the Whittaker-Gastelum and Adesanya-Silva struggles would meet at the end of this year.