Undefeated middle-weight Israel Adesanya stepped into the main event spotlight and claimed the biggest scalp of his mixed martial arts career with a unanimous decision victory over Anderson Silva at UFC 234. Nigeria-born Kiwi Adesanya, 29, and Brazilian legend Silva were originally scheduled to face off in the night’s co-main event contest in Melbourne. They were promoted to the main event of the show after Australian UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker withdrew from his fight. Whittaker was taken to hospital and had emergency surgery on what UFC officials called a “severe abdominal injury”.It forced the cancellation of Whittaker’s scheduled world title defence against American Kelvin Gastelum. Undefeated former kickboxing star Adesanya’s fight against 43-year-old former middleweight champion Silva, who was returning from a two-year hiatus – which included a one-year doping ban, had already been billed as a world title eliminator. And the pair delivered a thrilling contest at the Rod Laver Arena as they showcased their spectacular martial arts striking techniques. After three rounds of gripping action, Adesanya has unanimously declared the victor with scores of 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27, taking his career record to 16-0. Adesanya said it was a surreal experience sharing the octagon with one of his idols. “This is crazy. This is like, for a kid, just to play… If I’m playing basketball, to play against Michael Jordan. This is it for me,” he said.
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