Robert Whittaker Injured & Off UFC 221, Interim Champion To Be Crowned

Robert Whittaker

The 27-year-old became the first Australian-based champion in UFC history, however will now be replaced by Yoel Romero who will take on Luke Rockhold for an interim 185-pound championship.

According to ESPN's Brett Okamoto, who broke the news of Whittaker's withdrawal and the subsequent reshake, Whittaker wanted to compete in spite of his injury woes but was declared medically unfit to do so. It was the former champ's first fight since losing his middleweight belt to Bisping at UFC 199 in June of 2016.

It's unclear what injury Whittaker is now dealing with, though he did suffer a knee ailment last summer in a fight for the interim title with Romero at UFC 213.

UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker is out of his fight against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221.

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Finally, Friday's news confirms two additional points in we still can not have nice things in MMA, and the UFC's love for interim belts continues to roll strong.

"I'm beyond disappointed that I'm unable to defend the title in my home country of Australia", Whittaker said in a statement. Romero and Rockhold will compete in a five-round bout with a belt on the line as the promotion is introducing yet another interim title. St-Pierre opted to vacate the championship just 31 days later, citing health reasons. This card meant so much to me and I'm devastated for not being able to fight.

Romero (12-2) hasn't competed since his loss to Whittaker and had been preparing for a February 24 fight against David Branch. All I can do is focus on getting healthy to come back better than ever. As a result, Rockhold will instead face Yoel Romero for an interim title fight at the Perth Arena on February 10th. "All the best to Yoel and Luke for their fight and I'll be waiting..."

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