Robert Whittaker pulls out of UFC 221 as replacement fight is named

Saturday, 13 Jan, 2018

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

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've been ruled medically unable to compete and wont be able to defend on home soil".

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. "I hope the fans enjoy what should be a great night of fights at UFC 221, and I look forward to a recovery as soon as possible that will have me back in the Octagon to face the victor of the main event".

Prior to being drafted in to replace Whittaker, Romero had been scheduled to face former two-weight WSOF champion David Branch at UFC on Fox 28 in Orlando, Florida on February 24th - exactly two weeks after the Perth event.

Rockhold, who trains out of American Kickboxing Academy and Combat Club, is looking to recapture a UFC title. Instead, Rockhold will be taking on the man Whittaker beat to win his title, Yoel Romero. He won the 185-pound championship in December 2015, but surrendered it to Michael Bisping in his first attempted defense.

Whittaker's injury with a new interim title being introduced is just the latest saga affecting the middleweight division. In the weeks that followed St-Pierre's triumphant return to the cage after more than four years away from the Octagon, "GSP" announced a medical condition would prevent him from competing for a lengthy stretch.

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