UFC 221: Robert Whittaker's Out, Yoel Romero Steps In

UFC 221: Robert Whittaker's Out, Yoel Romero Steps In

The bout was scheduled to be against former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who now has a different challenge to face come February 10th down under. The UFC told ESPN that Whittaker will face the victor in an unification bout later in the year.

This will be Romero's second shot at UFC interim gold, as that fight between Whittaker and Yoel was for the interim middleweight title at the time, which turned into the undisputed title in no less than six months.

In the short term, despite being well-tailored to the local audience, UFC 221 was a one-fight card for the rest of the world.

Whittaker announced early Saturday morning that he will not compete in Perth, Australia due to a medical issue, instead, Luke Rockhold will now face Yoel Romero for the interim middleweight title at UFC 221. "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 victor of the main event".

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Rockhold, who trains out of American Kickboxing Academy and Combat Club, is looking to recapture a UFC title.

Rockhold will be looking to reclaim the championship he lost by first-round knockout to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in June 2016. Rockhold and Romero competing for an interim strap further signals to said return, but Whittaker suffering an injury is unfortunate nonetheless.

That will have to wait, however, as it's unknown what Whittaker's timeline to return is, leaving yet another UFC title on the shelf. This fight at UFC 221 will be the second interim title in that division in the previous year. In November, former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre returned from a four-year absence to win the title against Bisping at UFC 217.

Romero (12-2) hasn't competed since his loss to Whittaker and had been preparing for a February 24 fight against David Branch. Those wins included victories over Chris Weidman, Ronaldo Souza and Lyoto Machida.

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