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UFC puts another interim title on the line after injury strikes middleweight champion

Robert Whittaker was ruled medically unable to defend his title at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia and will be replaced by Yoel Romero.

Robert Whittaker will be replaced by Yoel Romero next month in Perth.
Robert Whittaker will be replaced by Yoel Romero next month in Perth.

THE UFC HAS suffered a major blow to next month’s event in Australia as middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been ruled out of his scheduled title defence in Perth during UFC 221.

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.

Whittaker attempted to remain on in the event scheduled for 11 February, but was declared medically unable by physicians.

“I’m beyond disappointed that I’m unable to defend the title in my home country of Australia,” Whittaker said speaking to ESPN.

“I hope the fans enjoy what should be a great night of fights at UFC 221, and I look forward to a recovery as soon as possible that will have me back in the Octagon to face the winner of the main event.”

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

Romero is a former Olympic silver medalist in wrestling and was due to take on David Branch on 24 February.

33-year-old Rockhold, meanwhile, defeated Branch via TKO back in September.

“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 said in an Instagram post on Saturday morning.

“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…”

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