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Robert Whittaker injured; Romero vs. Rockhold now headlines UFC 221

14 January, 2018, 00:47 | Author: John Swanson
  • Robert Whittaker injured; Romero vs. Rockhold now headlines UFC 221

UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was slated to face Luke Rockhold in the main event at UFC 221, but it appears that an injury has forced "Bobby Knuckles" to the sidelines.

UFC 221 will go down in Perth, Australia on February 10th. Yoel Romero has been named as his replacement.

Whittaker's bout in Perth is no more. Image Getty
Whittaker's bout in Perth is no more. Image Getty

A UFC official confirmed an ESPN report late Friday night.

"I'm beyond disappointed that I'm unable to defend the title in my home country of Australia", Whittaker said.

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In the short term, despite being well-tailored to the local audience, UFC 221 was a one-fight card for the rest of the world. "All the best to Yoel and Luke for their fight and I'll be waiting..." The UFC told ESPN that Whittaker will face the victor in an unification bout later in the year.

Whittaker was crowned interim champion last July with a win over Romero while Michael Bisping was injured and awaiting an eventual showdown with Georges St-Pierre in November. He began his UFC tenure by winning The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes in 2012 and holds notable victories over Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, Derek Brunson, Brad Tavares and Uriah Hall among others.

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The 27-year-old became the first Australian-based champion in UFC history, however will now be replaced by Yoel Romero who will take on Luke Rockhold for an interim 185-pound championship.

Romero (12-2) hasn't competed since his loss to Whittaker and had been preparing for a February 24 fight against David Branch.

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Former champion Rockhold returned to action at UFC Fight Night 116 in September of 2017, ending the fifteen-month hiatus that followed his first-round stoppage defeat to Bisping at UFC 199 and the loss of his middleweight crown. This fight at UFC 221 will be the second interim title in that division in the past year.

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