UFC president Dana White has made a startling revelation about Robert Whittaker’s health scare, after the Aussie’s withdrawal from the Melbourne event.
Australia’s UFC middleweight champion pulled out of his championship defence against Kelvin Gastelum on Sunday at UFC 234 because of an abdominal injury and subsequent emergency surgery.
White says the 28-year-old Whittaker, who has a record of 20-4, became ill Saturday night and complained of pain in his abdomen before being diagnosed at a hospital with a hernia.
In a later statement, UFC said Whittaker had undergone emergency surgery due to a “severe abdominal injury.”
Now it’s emerged just how serious the situation was for the 28-year-old Aussie, with White told by doctors that the Aussie risked dying if he stepped into the Octagon.
“He’s in the recovery room. I was with his wife and family,” said White.
“This is one of those freak accidents where the doctor said literally they’ve never seen this type of injury in a young person. This usually happens to old people.
“His bowel and intestines poked through the hole.
“It didn’t happen yesterday after the weigh ins. They think he’s had this problem and it’s been going in and out.
“It’s one of those situations had it popped out during the fight it could have been fatal for him.”
The highly anticipated No. 1 contender match between rising New Zealand star Israel Adesanya (15-0) and Brazilian veteran Anderson Silva (34-8) will now serve as the main event on the Rod Laver Arena card.
Elevated on the card was the lightweight bout between American Lando Vannata and Brazilian Marcos Mariano.
Tickets for the 15,000-seat arena sold out in eight minutes. UFC has offered full refunds due to the cancellation of the main bout.
It marks the second time Whittaker has been forced to withdraw from a scheduled title fight in Australia.
Injuries kept him from fighting Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in Perth last year.
Earlier this week, White had said the winners of the Whittaker-Gastelum and Adesanya-Silva fights would meet later this year.