Whittaker withdraws from Perth's UFC 221

Ruben Hill
January 13, 2018

THE UFC HAS suffered a major blow to next month's event in Australia as middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been ruled out of his scheduled title defence in Perth during UFC 221.

Rockhold (16-3) will now face Yoel Romero (12-2) for an interim 185-pound championship.

UFC officials confirmed the news via ESPN on late Friday night. 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.

Whittaker was scheduled to take on former champion Luke Rockhold in UFC 221 at Perth Arena on February 11.

The UFC made the decision to do so after Whittaker was forced to withdraw from the event, at which he was supposed to defend his recently upgraded strap against Luke Rockhold, due to an undisclosed injury.

Rockhold, who trains out of American Kickboxing Academy and Combat Club, is looking to recapture a UFC title.

The 33-year-old former champion is coming off a TKO win over David Branch in September.

Whittaker's injury with a new interim title being introduced is just the latest saga affecting the middleweight division.

That will have to wait, however, as it's unknown what Whittaker's timeline to return is, leaving yet another UFC title on the shelf.

Whittaker was installed as the full-time middleweight champion after Georges St-Pierre vacated the belt he won off of Michael Bisping at UFC 217 in November when it was discovered he was battling ulcerative colitis.

Before that, Rockhold had amassed five victories in a row over key 185lb players like Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida and Bisping.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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