Robert Whittaker Injured & Off UFC 221, Interim Champion To Be Crowned

Middleweight champ Robert Whittaker out of UFC 221 Yoel Romero replaces him

Australian UFC middleweight champion Rob Whittaker has withdrawn from his home country appearance at Perth's UFC 221 with an undisclosed injury.

He will now face the victor of Romero versus Rockhold in a unification bout, with all customers who purchased tickets for UFC 221 eligible for a refund.

Whittaker, 27, tried to remain on the event but was ruled medically unable to compete by physicians.

The nature and extent of his injuries is unclear, but the show will go on. While Whittaker vs. Rockhold was a compelling fight, the event features no other global draws outside fan-favorite heavyweight Mark Hunt, who is set to face the unheralded Curtis Blaydes. The new main event at UFC 221 will still have championship gold resting in the balance as Rockhold vs. Romero will fight for an interim strap with the victor facing Whittaker in a unification bout later in 2018.

The middleweight champion will fight Luke Rockhold in February.

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Whittaker was an obvious choice to headline the event, as he is the first Australia-based champion in UFC history.

Meanwhile, Rockhold got back to winning ways in September with a submission victory over David Branch, after having lost the middleweight title in a rematch against Michael Bisping back in June of 2016.

The 40-year-old Romero comes into the fight off the back of an interim title fight defeat to the aforementioned Whittaker in July of last year, but prior to that he had been on an eight-fight winning streak that had seen him defeat the likes of Chris Weidman, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, Lyoto Machida and Tim Kennedy. This card meant so much to me and I'm devastated for not being able to fight.

St-Pierre's move allowed Whittaker to exchange his interim title for the undisputed crown, and news of the fight with Rockhold signaled a return to business for a division that had been slowed by chaos for the past year.

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