Whittaker pulls out with injury, Adesanya wins at UFC 234

Credit Dave Mandel Sherdog

New Zealand's Israel Adesanya closed in on a potential trans-Tasman middleweight title showdown with Australian Robert Whittaker, with a unanimous decision points win over legendary Brazilian Anderson Silva. No, it wasn't the man he defeated twice before.

After the fight, Silva was heard saying to Adesanya: "I pass the baton onto you".

Entering the fight, fans and pundits alike considered Adesanya to be a better version of Silva due to some similarities in their fighting style.

Said White: "He (Silva) is a crafty veteran. he has knockout power and, if it goes to the ground, he is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and has submitted a lot of guys".

The respect Adesanya had for Silva was evident from the moment the fight began. "His bowel and his intestines poked through the hole ... and it's one of those situations had it popped out during the fight, it could have been fatal".

It forced the cancellation of Whittaker's scheduled world title defence against American Kelvin Gastelum.

While middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was recovering from emergency surgery for an intestinal hernia and a "twisted and collapsed" bowel, challenger Kelvin Gastelum was busy turning full heel.

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Two judges scored the fight 30-27 to Adesanya and the third had it 29-28.

Still, Adesanya never allowed himself to eat too much damage before resetting in the center of the cage where he was constantly the aggressor.

"If I'm playing basketball to play against Michael Jordan, this is it for me", Adesanya said after facing one of his idols in Silva.

It is unclear whether a bout between Whittaker and Gastelum will be rearranged, but one thing is clear - Damon, who played a doctor, botanist, and astronaut in the 2015 hit movie "The Martian", expects Whittaker to be sidelined for more than a month. "It really does. And it makes it easier for me to try even harder next time, to get in there and to put my soul on bare and put on a good show for you guys".

Earlier this week, White had said the winners of the Whittaker-Gastelum and Adesanya-Silva fights would meet later this year. "This is it for me", Adesanya said.

In other matches, crafty US lightweight Lando Vannata defeated Brazilian Marcos Rosa Mariano in the first round, locking up a kimura submission after securing top position.

The UFC offered refunds to disappointed fans who had bought tickets to see Whittaker in action, but only a handful of fans accepted them.

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