UFC 234 got bit by the worst injury bug possible, losing its headlining fight on the day of the event.
Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was removed from the UFC 234 main event and rushed into surgery on Saturday after being diagnosed with an internal hernia and a collapsed bowel. He emerged a few hours later from surgery, but is expected to spend several days recovering in the hospital.
Whittaker’s withdrawal came at a point when it was too late to keep his opponent Kelvin Gastelum on the fight card, so the original co-main event between Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva was elevated to headlining status.
When that happened, the UFC had no choice but to offer refunds. UFC president Dana White said at the post-fight press conference that refunds were offered on tickets at the arena with a sign outside the venue noting that the championship main event had been cancelled.
Apparently there were few takers on the refund offer.
White announced the event as a sellout with attendance of 15,238 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. The gate was also a solid number, accounting for $2,470,088 U.S. ($3,484,155 AUS).
Though the crowd was shorted one very important bout, White said that the early pay-per-view numbers were also strong considering the cancellation of the main event.
Adesanya and Silva did their best to pick up the slack, providing an exciting three-round stand-up battle between the 29-year-old rising star and the 43-year-old aging lion. Though Silva’s mettle was on display, Adesanya was too much to overcome. The younger fighter took home a unanimous decision victory.