UFC 234 was already panned as a poorly put-together pay-per-view, then the worst case scenario happened as Robert Whittaker has pulled out of the main event on the day of the fight.
Brett Okamoto of ESPN reported the removal of the middleweight champion from UFC 234, and the subsequent changes to the card. Okamoto also reported that Robert Whittaker will be going into surgery for the hernia today.
As for the new-look to UFC 234, Lando Vannata vs. Marcus Mariano has been bumped up from the featured Fight Pass prelim to the co-main event. That fight takes the spot of the much-anticipated Anderson Silva vs. Israel Adesanya bout, which is now the main event.
Oddly enough, as pointed out by Cageside Press’ Tony Fagnano, Robert Whittaker was forced out of his first title defense with a staph infection just one day short of a year ago. Luke Rockhold would then fight Yoel Romero for the interim middleweight title. The interim title will not be on the line in tonight’s main event, making it a rare belt-less pay-per-view.
There is no replacement for Whittaker, and Kelvin Gastelum has been removed from the card without any word on future plans for the top middleweight contender. Since winning the title in July 2017, Whittaker has one title defense to his name.
UFC 234 takes place tonight from the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. The new card is as follows:
Main Card (PPV, 10 p.m. EST)
- #6 Israel Adesanya vs. #15 Anderson Silva
- Lando Vannata vs. Marcos Mariano
- #15 Rani Yahya vs. Ricky Simon
- #14 Montana De La Rosa vs. Nadia Kassem
- Jim Crute vs. Sam Alvey
Preliminary Card (ESPN, 8 p.m. EST)
- Devonte Smith vs. Dong Hyun Ma
- Shane Young vs. Austin Arnett
- Kai Kara-France vs. Raulian Paiva
- Teruto Ishihara vs. Kyung Ho Kang
Early Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass, 7 p.m. EST)
- Callan Potter vs. Jailin Turner
- Wuliji Buren vs. Jonathan Martinez