Robert Whittaker out of title fight against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 with injury
Yoel Romero will step in for the champion from Australia for UFC 221
Robert Whittaker is still not ready to step back in the Octagon just yet. Whittaker suffered an undisclosed injury while training for his first ever title defense against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 and will be unable to compete, UFC confirmed on Saturday morning.
The man Whittaker beat to earn interim gold last summer, Yoel Romero, will take his place.
"I'm beyond disappointed that I'm unable to defend the title in my home country of Australia," Whittaker said in a statement. "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 winner of the main event."
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...
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. As soon as he was installed, Whittaker was booked to take on the former champion Rockhold for the belt.
After beating Romero at UFC 213, Whittaker underwent knee surgery and was unable to fight for six months.
Whittaker has won consecutive bouts with four of those coming via stoppage. UFC 221 is scheduled to take place in Perth, Australia on Feb. 3.
Romero was originally scheduled to take on David Branch on Feb. 24 as part of UFC on Fox in Orlando, Florida. He has not competed since losing to Whittaker last summer.
Mitrione got his revenge on Nelson over five years later with the win on Friday
'King Mo' Lawal, who could face the winner, handicaps the first round heavyweight tourney...
SportsLine's Mike McClure, a DFS pro with more than $1M in winnings, gives optimal lineup...
'Cowboy' faces all-action Yancy Medeiros in Sunday's UFC Fight Night main event
UFC 221 recap and a look at the Bellator World Grand Prix
UFC looks to keep its PPV schedule rolling at the first one of the year