mma / News

Robert Whittaker Injured and Off UFC 221, Yoel Romero Set to Face Luke Rockhold for New Interim Belt

January 13, 2018 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Robert Whittaker

Per ESPN, UFC 221 next month suffered a major blow as reigning UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is injured and has been forced to withdraw from the card. Whittaker was deemed medically unable to fight by physicians.

Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold will now stay on the card. He will now face Yoel Romero, the man Whittaker defeated last year to become interim middleweight champion. The fight will be for an interim UFC middleweight title. Previously, Whittaker was the interim champion, but he was declared the full champion after Georges St-Pierre relinquished the title after defeating Michael Bisping for the belt at UFC 217.

According to UFC officials, Whittaker is expected to face the winner of the new UFC 221 main event in a unification bout later on. Whittaker commented on the news, stating, “I’m beyond disappointed that I’m unable to defend the title in my home country of Australia. 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.”

This is a devastating blow to UFC 221, which was scheduled to take place in Whittaker’s home of Perth, Australia. The event has now lost the power of having its Australian champion in the headlining title fight.

This isn’t the only major change caused by the injury. As a result of the fight change, Yoel Romero will no longer face David Branch in a middleweight bout at UFC on FOX 28 on February 24. After hearing the news about the loss of his major fight with Romero, Branch posted the following video on his Instagram account.

Branch stated: “I just got up to take a (expletive) piss, man, and I found out about all this (expletive) right now. I’ve been training my (expletive) ass off, man. I’m away from my family right now, sleeping in the (expletive) gym, sleeping in my gym. (Expletive), man, damn. Things happen. We get injured sometimes. These guys are all real fighters, man. This is the nature of the business. I was just really stoked to fight Yoel. Really excited to right some wrongs in my last fight. These things happen. I’m going to be back in the Octagon soon guys. I don’t know against who. I guess I’m just going to go home and sleep now. I don’t know what’s going on. This (expletive) is crazy.”

UFC 221 is set for February 11 at the Perth Arena in Perth, Australia. The main card will be broadcast live on pay-per-view. Prelims will be shown on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.