Robert Whittaker out of UFC 221 title fight with Luke Rockhold

LAS VEGAS NV- DECEMBER 12 Yoel Romero celebrates after a middleweight fight against Ronaldo Souza during UFC 194

Whittaker was then declared the undisputed middleweight champion but now that he's been sidelined another interim belt will be introduced with the victor of Rockhold vs. Romero expected to then unify the title later in 2018. The bout was going to headline UFC 221 inside Perth Arena in Perth, Western Australia.

Robert Whittaker became the UFC middleweight champion when Georges St. Pierre relinquished his belt. He is actually coming off a decision loss to Whittaker for the interim title last July.

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 officials confirmed the news via ESPN on late Friday night.

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Rockhold made his return from injury at UFC Fight Night 116, stepping back in the cage after a 15-month layoff.

"I'm beyond disappointed that I'm unable to defend the title in my home country of Australia", Whittaker said in a statement. 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. This card meant so much to me and I'm devastated for not being able to fight. Romero and Rockhold will compete in a five-round bout with a belt on the line as the promotion is introducing yet another interim title. All I can do is focus on getting healthy to come back better than ever.

Romero (12-2) hasn't competed since his loss to Whittaker and had been preparing for a February 24 fight against David Branch. I wish Yoel and Lucas [Rockhold] the best. He defeated David Branch (21-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) back in September, and has been calling for another shot at the title since being knocked out by Michael Bisping in 2016.

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