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UFC 234: Robert Whittaker pulls out of middleweight title fight at last minute

MELBOURNE, Australia - An abdominal hernia has forced UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker out of his highly anticipated title defense against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234, just hours before doors were scheduled to open at Rod Laver Arena. Whittaker reportedly complained of pain in his abdomen around midnight of the previous night and was soon taken to the hospital.

Whittaker was set to defend his title for the first time since becoming interim champion at UFC 213.

The news, in which Whittaker reportedly suffered a hernia, initially came via ESPN's Brett Okamoto.

The previously scheduled co-main event between Anderson Silva and Israel Adesanya will serve as a fine headliner.

The UFC 234 main card will begin on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET Saturday.

Injuries kept him from fighting Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in Perth previous year.

Extra weight was added to the Adesanya-Silva fight when UFC president Dana White announced on Friday that it would be for the No.1 middleweight contender spot. Adesanaya vs. Silva will remain a three-round contest. Whittaker was forced into emergency surgery while UFC 234 lost its hometown hero for the second straight attempt on Australian land.

Earlier this week, White had said the winners of the Whittaker-Gastelum and Adesanya-Silva fights would meet later this year.

A lightweight clash between Lando Vannata and Marcos Rosa Mariano will now move to the main card.

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