UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was scheduled to defend his title against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 on February 10 in Perth, Australia. With new that Whittaker is injured, the UFC has moved down the line to removing Yoel Romero from his scheduled fight with David Branch and placing the Cuban born fighter in an interim title bout wtih Rockhold.
UFC Statement below:
“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.”
Romero was to fight Branch on February 24 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Floria. It is not yet known if Branch will remain on the card against a new opponent.
The new complete UFC 221 lineup below:
MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero – for interim middleweight title
Curtis Blaydes vs. Mark Hunt
Cyril Asker vs. Tai Tuivasa
Li Jingliang vs. Jake Matthews
Tyson Pedro vs. Saparbek Safarov
PRELIMINARY CARD (FS1, 8 p.m. ET)
Damien Brown vs. “Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim
Israel Adesanya vs. Rob Wilkinson
Jeremy Kennedy vs. Alex Volkanovski
Jussier Formiga vs. Ben Nguyen
PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6:45 p.m. ET)
Mizuto Hirota vs. Ross Pearson
Teruto Ishihara vs. Jose Quinonez
Daichi Abe vs. Luke Jumeau