Reigning UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (19-4) has been forced to withdraw from his first title defence, at UFC 221 in February. The pull out comes after the champ suffered an undisclosed injury in training.
As a result, an interim title bout will now take place between Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero as the main event of UFC 221, at the Perth Arena, in Perth Australia.
A disappointed Whittaker has now released a statement regarding the withdrawal Via social media. The full statement can be read below.
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I would like to apologize to all my supporters and fans of MMA for not being able to put on the show you deserve. I've been ruled medically unable to compete and wont be able to defend on home soil. This card meant so much to me and I'm devastated for not being able to fight. All I can do is focus on getting healthy to come back better than ever. All the best to Yoel and Luke for their fight and ill be waiting…
A post shared by Robert Whittaker (@robwhittakermma) on
With Whittaker forced out of the headlining bout in his home country, the former champion Rockhold will now face Yoel Romero on less than a months notice. Rockhold last took to the octagon in September 2017 in his second round stoppage of David Branch.