Interim middleweight title bout replaces Garbrandt-Dillashaw at UFC 213

Another new belt will be handed out at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on 8 July.

THE EPIDEMIC OF interim title fights in the UFC has spread to the organisation’s middleweight division.

The UFC has announced that Yoel Romero is to face Robert Whittaker for an interim 185lbs belt, with the bout set to receive co-main event billing at UFC 213 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, 8 July.

MMA 2016 - UFC 205 - New York Yoel Romero celebrates after his victory over Chris Weidman last November. Jason Silva Jason Silva

A bantamweight title bout between champion Cody Garbrandt and former title-holder TJ Dillashaw was expected to headline the card, but that fight has now been pulled as a result of a back injury sustained by Garbrandt.

Instead, Amanda Nunes’ defence of the women’s bantamweight title against Valentina Shevchenko will receive top billing for the pay-per-view event.

Reigning middleweight champion Michael Bisping had been expected to defend his title against former welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre this summer, but a knee injury sustained by Bisping and GSP’s other commitments away from fighting have combined to threaten to hold up the division.

In 2016, interim title bouts took place in the UFC’s featherweight and light-heavyweight divisions, while an interim lightweight title bout was set to happen in March until weight-cut complications forced Khabib Nurmagomedov to withdraw from a clash with Tony Ferguson.

With a record of 8-0 under the UFC umbrella, Romero (13-1) is the number one contender in the middleweight division. On the back of his career-best victory over ‘Jacare’ Souza last month, Whittaker (18-4) moved up to third in the rankings.

UFC president Dana White told ESPN that the organisation is now working on an August flyweight title bout between Dillashaw and dominant champion Demetrious Johnson.

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