Whittaker pulls out with injury, Adesanya wins at UFC 234
MELBOURNE, Australia — Robert Whittaker provided most of the early drama at UFC 234 in Australia and Israel Adesanya quite a lot at the end.
About eight hours before their scheduled fight, Australia’s UFC middleweight champion Whittaker withdrew from his championship defense against Kelvin Gastelum because of a serious abdominal injury and subsequent emergency surgery due to a perforated hernia.
That moved up the highly anticipated No. 1 contender match between rising New Zealand star Adesayna and Brazilian veteran Anderson Silva (34-9) to the main event on the sold-out Rod Laver Arena card.
In an evenly matched fight over the first two rounds, Adesayna landed the first blow — an outside kick to Silva’s leg — then followed it up with a kick to his opponent’s right thigh, but Silva fought back with two shots to Adesayna’s chin. Despite the late flurry, Adesayna appeared to have marginally taken the first round.
Silva appeared to have won the second round, and chants for the Brazilian went up in the crowd to start the third and final round. But Adesayna, now 16-0, dominated the third for a unanimous decision, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 as per the judges’ cards.
Nigeria’s Israel Adesanya, left, reacts after defeating Brazil’s Anderson Silva at the UFC 234 event Sunday in Melbourne.