Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero to Vie for Interim MW Title at UFC 221 After Whittaker Injury

By Tristen Critchfield Jan 13, 2018

UFC 221 has a new main event after middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was forced to withdraw from the card due to injury.

As a result, Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero will square off for the interim 185-pound title on Feb. 10. The promotion confirmed the new bout through Th West Australian early Saturday morning. UFC 221 takes place at the Perth Arena, in Perth, Australia, and airs on pay-per-view.

“I would like to apologize to all my supporters and fans of MMA for not being able to put on the show you deserve,” Whittaker wrote on Instagram. “I've been ruled medically unable to compete and won’t 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 I’ll be waiting.”

Whittaker claimed the interim middleweight belt with a decision victory over Romero at UFC 213 on July 8. The 27-year-old Sydney native was installed as undisputed champion when Georges St. Pierre vacated the title shortly after defeating Michael Bisping at UFC 217 in November. “Bobby Knuckles” has won his last eight fights in the Octagon.

Rockhold rebounded from losing the title to Bisping at UFC 199 with a second-round stoppage of David Branch in his most recent outing at UFC Fight Night 116. Prior to his defeat against Whittaker, Romero had compiled an eight-bout winning streak that included triumphs over Chris Weidman, Ronaldo Souza, Lyoto Machida and Derek Brunson.

Romero was previously scheduled to face Branch at UFC on Fox 28 on Feb. 24.


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