UFC 248 has taken a significant hit.
According to a report from ESPN, former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has withdrawn from a proposed but against Jared Cannonier due to undisclosed personal reasons. Promotion officials are seeking a replacement opponent so that Cannonier can remain on the card.
UFC 248 takes place on March 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and features a strawweight championship tilt between Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The event does not yet have an official headliner.
Whittaker was set to return for the first time since losing the middleweight crown to Israel Adesanya via second-round knockout at UFC 243 this past October. Prior to that, the 29-year-old Australian had compiled a nine-bout winning streak within the Las Vegas-based promotion.
Cannonier, meanwhile, has found success since moving to middleweight from 205 pounds. “The Killa Gorilla” has earned three consecutive KO/TKO finishes of David Branch, Anderson Silva and Jack Hermansson to establish himself as a new contender in the division.