UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker is out of his fight against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221.
According to UFC officials, per ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto, the local favorite has withdrawn from his scheduled UFC 221 bout with Luke Rockhold because of an undisclosed injury. Yoel Romero has been named as his replacement.
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." he said.
"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 wrote. This card meant so much to me and I'm devastated for not being able to fight. The UFC told ESPN that Whittaker will face the victor in an unification bout later in the year.
Whittaker announced early Saturday morning that he will not compete in Perth, Australia due to a medical issue, instead, Luke Rockhold will now face Yoel Romero for the interim middleweight title at UFC 221.
Whittaker (19-4) has gone 7-0 since moving up to the 185-pound division in 2014 after competing at welterweight for the first five years of his career. Yoel is coming off of his first loss in the UFC, as that was back in July of 2017 against current champ Robert Whittaker.
Romero was already scheduled for a fight a few weeks later at UFC on FOX 28 from Orlando in a middleweight bout against David Branch.
Whittaker had held an interim title until Georges St. Pierre vacated the middleweight belt in December and Whittaker, a Sydney resident, was promoted to outright champion. Rockhold would lose the gold in his first title defense, which came against Michael Bisping at UFC 199.