"This is like for a kid just to play, if I'm playing basketball, to play against Michael Jordan".
The blazing hands and the remarkable reflexes that led Anderson Silva to become the greatest fighter in the world at his peak are long gone.
The three-round fight, 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. "Well, this is it for me".
Adesanya took each of the three rounds, but Silva looked unsafe in his return to the Octagon after a two-year absence.
Gastelum borrowed the belt of flyweight champion Henry Cerjudo, who attended the show.
On the broadcast, UFC President Dana White said that the promotion's doctors had never seen a situation like Whittaker's happen to someone as young as him and referred to it as a freak incident.
"Anderson is one crafty, crafty Martial Artist", wrote McGregor. "You only develop these methods through years of hard fought experience. Big respect always. It would be an honor!"
"Yeah, I'd do that fight again if they both wanted to do it, it's a fun fight", White said.
The bout was essentially a kickboxing match with four-ounce gloves. Silva waited patiently for opportunities to counter, but he wasn't able to return to his glory days when he won 16 bouts in a row and was unbeaten for almost a decade.
The UFC offered refunds to disappointed fans who had bought tickets to see Whittaker in action, but only a handful of fans accepted them.
While Adesanya was able to control the range and the distance with his size and reach advantage, Silva refused to back down even after he was tagged with a couple of stinging punches during the first few exchanges.
6 Degrees Management, who manage Whittaker, released a statement during the event that the middleweight champion required dual surgery for a twisted and collapsed bowel as well as an internal hernia of the intestine.
Gastelum wished Whittaker a speedy recovery.
The UFC 234 main card will begin on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET Saturday.