UFC 221: Robert Whittaker's Out, Yoel Romero Steps In

UFC 221: Robert Whittaker's Out, Yoel Romero Steps In

Robert Whittaker, right, is announced the victor by unanimous decision against Yoel Romero in the UFC 213 interim middleweight title bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Saturday, July 8, 2017. The bout was scheduled to be against former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who now has a different challenge to face come February 10th down under.

Whittaker's injury was first reported by ESPN's Brett Okamoto on Friday with additional news that Yoel Romero will be stepping up to face Rockhold instead.

The 27-year-old was crowned interim middleweight champion last July after earning a tightly contested unanimous decision victory over Romero in the main event of UFC 213.

It will be the first time the UFC has staged an event in Western Australia, and Whittaker admits he is devastated not to be fighting on the card. 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.

"I'm beyond disappointed that I'm unable to defend the title in my home country of Australia", Whittaker stated. The new main event at UFC 221 will still have championship gold resting in the balance as Rockhold vs. Romero will fight for an interim strap with the victor facing Whittaker in a unification bout later in 2018.

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Romero had been scheduled to face David Branch on the UFC on Fox 28 card in Orlando on February 24.

"I would like to apologize to all my supporters and fans of MMA for not being able to put on the show you deserve".

He will now face the victor of Romero versus Rockhold in a unification bout, with all customers who purchased tickets for UFC 221 eligible for a refund.

Meanwhile, Rockhold got back to winning ways in September with a submission victory over David Branch, after having lost the middleweight title in a rematch against Michael Bisping back in June of 2016. "All the best to Yoel and Luke for their fight and I'll be waiting..."

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