In a massive blow to UFC 221, Robert Whittaker has withdrawn from his first title defence on home soil due to an undisclosed injury.
As first reported by ESPN, Luke Rockhold will remain on the February 10th card but will now face fellow top contender Yoel Romero for an interim middleweight title.
“I’m beyond disappointed that I’m unable to defend the title in my home country of Australia,” Whittaker said. “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.”
With Romero now set to contest for the interim title, his scheduled bout against David Branch on February 24th leaves Branch without an opponent and his position on the UFC on Fox 28 card unknown.
Prior to Whittaker being promoted to the undisputed UFC middleweight champion, Whittaker successfully claimed an interim title in July of last year by successfully claiming a unanimous decision victory over Yoel Romero.