Whittaker out of UFC 234 due to hernia surgery

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Whittaker was due to take on Gastelum in an eagerly-awaited match-up at the top of the bill on home soil at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday local time.

UFC president Dana White confirmed today in a press conference in Melbourne that the stipulations are the same for Kiwi fighter Israel Adesanya, that he will have a shot at the title if he beats Anderson Silva on Sunday.

It is understood Whittaker started complaining to his coaching staff late on Saturday evening of pain in his abdomen. The bout will determine the next contender to the title, likely after Whittaker defends vs. Gastelum. "I was told it was not any weight-cutting related issue or anything like that".

The new co-main is the lightweight matchup between Lando Vannata and Marcos Mariano.

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UFC officials have said the fight will remain over three rounds, and not go to five - as is the case for headline events.

Earlier this week, White had said the winners of the Whittaker-Gastelum and Adesanya-Silva fights would meet later this year. Whittaker was forced into emergency surgery while UFC 234 lost its hometown hero for the second straight attempt on Australian land.

Adesanya is undefeated from 15 fights in mixed martial arts, and won his first four fights in the UFC past year, including three victories that were adjudged performance of the night.

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