Israel Adesanya won a legion of new fans with his thrilling unanimous decision win over legend Anderson Silva in Melbourne on Sunday — but his status as the true No. 1 contender to Robert Whittaker’s crown has been thrown into question by some pointed criticism from within the UFC fraternity.

The 29-year-old kickboxing specialist declared himself the No. 1 contender after stealing the show at UFC 234 at Rod Laver Arena — ignoring the chaos caused to the middleweight division by Whittaker’s collapsed bowel and intestinal hernia that required emergency surgery on the morning of the event.

UFC boss Dana White now finds himself in the impossible position of having promised both Adesanya and American Kelvin Gastelum the next shot at Whittaker’s belt.

With no clear time frame for Whittaker’s return Adesanya is now facing a potentially extended wait on the sidelines until after an expected Whittaker-Gastelum showdown in 2019 — or the prospect of having to fight again, possibly against No. 3 contender Jacare Souza, without a belt on the line.

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