Robert Whittaker was set to headline Sunday’s UFC event in Melbourne, however, the champion underwent emergency surgery.
Middleweight champion Whittaker has been forced to withdraw from his UFC 234 main event against Kelvin Gastelum due to a severe abdominal injury.
The announcement just hours before the scheduled fight marks the second Australian headliner that Whittaker was forced to pull out of due to injuries.
Whittaker missed Perth’s UFC 221 in February 2018, which meant the 28-year-old was unable to defend his middleweight title in Australia.
Statement on UFC 234. https://t.co/oFiH8Q3Rtr
— UFC (@ufc) February 9, 2019
“With much sorrow I write that my fight for the middleweight title is off,” Gastelum wrote via Twitter. “I’m sorry to everyone that was expecting this great fight, Family, friends and followers from around the world.
“God has a reason for doing things and I firmly believe his plans are much bigger and better than I can even imagine. I’m so torn about this situation. A lifetime of pursuit to be able to reach this level and I hope none of these efforts will go in vain.
“I wish @robwhittakermma a speedy recovery champ! Get well soon!”
I wish @robwhittakermma a speedy recovery champ! Get well soon!
— #OnAmission4Gold (@KelvinGastelum) February 9, 2019