Israel Adesanya lands a right hand strike on Anderson Silva during his unanimous decision victory.
The three-round fight at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena, between sixth-ranked Adesanya and 15th rated former champion Silva, was elevated to main event status, after a severe abdominal injury forced champion Whittaker to withdraw from his title defence against No.1 contender Kelvin Gastelum.
There are a total of five fights on the main card.
"This is like, if I'm playing basketball, to play against Michael Jordan".
The 29-year-old was full of respect for Silva, 43.
"I showed up, travelled thousands and thousands of miles away from home, made the weight..." Sometimes it's not in your control.More news: Winter weather advisory in effect until 9 pm Sunday
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Provided Robert Whittaker heals quickly, it sounds as though the UFC's intention is rebook his planned fight with Kelvin Gastelum - perhaps as soon as April.
Adesanya has been chasing a trans-Tasman fight with Whittaker and the Nigerian-born fighter was booed by the Australian crowd when he referenced Whittaker as "not turning up to work". "We'll see how the timing plays. but I'd literally come to Australia every weekend if I could".
Earlier in the week UFC President Dana White confirmed that the victor of the bout would be next in line for a middleweight title shot, however with Whittaker's withdrawal, Adesanya will likely have to wait for the dust to settle between Gastelum and Whittaker. "They think he's had it for a while and it's been popping in and out", White said of Whittaker.
It was widely expected to be a one-sided bout in favor of the younger fighter, the heaviest opposing favorite in Silva's illustrious career. And although the Brazilian fought back with a couple of punches to Adesanya's chin, the Kiwi won the first round. This is my life.
Victorian light heavyweight Crute got a first-round stoppage over American Sam Alvey, who clearly felt the fight was stopped prematurely.
"I think it's a very interesting fight, because the last fight was a no contest. I'm going to go back to training, go back to see my family and maybe I fight in Curitiba".