Robert Whittaker was thrust into an unenviable position Friday night.
Whittaker (19-4), the reigning UFC middleweight champion, was forced to withdraw from his first scheduled title defense on Feb. 11 at UFC 221 due to an undisclosed injury. As a result, the UFC scheduled an interim title bout between top contenders Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romeroas UFC 221’s replacement main event, which takes place at the Perth Arena in Whittaker’s home country of Perth, Australia.
Whittaker released a statement regarding his unfortunate withdrawal early Saturday morning on social media. That statement can be read below.
With Whittaker out of the event, Romero (12-2) gets another crack at the interim UFC middleweight title. The 40-year-old Olympic silver medalist has racked up a 8-1 record in the UFC’s 185-pound division, with his lone loss coming in a razor thin decision loss to Whittaker atUFC 213.
Rockhold (16-3), meanwhile, will be forced to adjust to a change in opponent on less than a month’s notice. A former Strikeforce and UFC middleweight champion, Rockhold rebounded from his stunning loss to Michael Bisping with a Sept. 2017 second-round stoppage over David Branch at UFC Pittsburgh.