Unfortunately for fight fans, on just a few weeks notice, UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker pulled out of his scheduled UFC 221 title fight with Luke Rockhold.
The UFC will now put on an interim title fight between Rockhold and last minute replacement Yoel Romero.
Robert Whittaker, in a prepared statement, revealed that he was deemed medically unfit to fight by doctors, and was pulled from the card as a result.
Still though, the exact reasoning behind his removal remained tight lipped.
Whittaker’s statement reads,
I would like to apologize to all my supporters and fans of MMA for not being able to put on the show you deserve. I’ve been ruled medically unable to compete and wont be able to defend on home soil. 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 ill be waiting…
Now the UFC has shed some light on the matter, citing “several significant injuries suffered” as the reason for Whittaker’s sudden and abrupt removal from the card.
Though stopping short of naming what exactly is wrong with the UFC Champion, it does sound serious.
In a prepared statement, the UFC revealed,
“Due to several significant injuries suffered recently, current middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, has been ruled medically unable to compete in the championship bout at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia.
Whittaker states “I’m beyond disappointed that I’m unable to defend the title in my home country of Australia. 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.”
Former middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold, will now face the #1 contender, Yoel Romero, for the UFC interim middleweight title. Romero has defeated eight out of his last nine opponents, which includes top-ranked athletes such as Chris Weidman, Jacare Souza and Lyoto Machida.
UFC 221 will take place at Perth Arena for the first event in Western Australia. With the change in the main event, customers may request a full refund of purchased tickets at point of sale.”