Robert Whittaker & Kelvin Gastelum's UFC 234 Staredown

Robert Whittaker & Kelvin Gastelum's UFC 234 Staredown

Robert Whittaker & Kelvin Gastelum's UFC 234 Staredown

Behind the first UFC paywall of the year is a middldweight title fight between champion, Robert Whittaker, and challenger, Kelvin Gastelum.

In a later statement, UFC said Whittaker had undergone emergency surgery due to a "severe abdominal injury".

In the middleweight co-feature, which is expected to produce the next title challenger, unbeaten Israel Adesanya (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) is more than a 6-1 favorite against former longtime champ Anderson Silva (34-8 MMA, 17-4 UFC). "It wasn't a weight-cutting related issue or anything like that, it's just a very unfortunate hernia issue which may even require a procedure".

Whittaker was taken to hospital on Saturday morning, a source told ESPN's Ariel Helwani.

Silva, 43, broke into tears during the UFC 234 official weigh-in.

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UFC 234 takes place from Melbourne, Australia and the Rod Laver Arena.

This marks the second time that Whittaker has been slated to fight in Australia, but been unable to compete because of complications.

Adesanya, a New Zealander who UFC called its breakout star of 2018 in its release, made his UFC debut only a year ago in the preliminary card of UFC 221, the same event that Whittaker had to pull out of.

Gastelum's manager has stated that he hopes Kelvin will fight the victor of Silva vs. Adesanya for the title in his next octagon appearance.

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