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Main » Yoel Romero to replace middleweight champ Robert Whittaker at UFC 221

Yoel Romero to replace middleweight champ Robert Whittaker at UFC 221

13 January 2018

Many thought that, following roughly a year-and-a-half of uncertainty during Bisping's chaotic reign, the division was finally set for some clarity and progression towards the norm with the champion facing a rightful number one contender, and indeed the decision to have Whittaker headline UFC 221 was an obvious one considering his ties to Australia.

Whittaker, born in New Zealand but raised in Australia, was scheduled to face Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC 221 in Perth on February 11 but he suffered several significant injuries in training.

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The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight title hasn't dropped the interim tag after all.

It wasn't meant to be as ESPN brought word of an injury to Whittaker, which has forced him off the card. "I've been ruled medically unable to compete and wont be able to defend on home soil". The new main event at UFC 221 will still have championship gold resting in the balance as Rockhold vs. Romero will fight for an interim strap with the victor facing Whittaker in a unification bout later in 2018. The loss was Romero's first since he was KO'd by Rafael Calvacante in a light-heavyweight bout at a Strikeforce event in September of 2011 and his first ever in the UFC.

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"I would like to apologize to all my supporters and fans of MMA for not being able to put on the show you deserve", Whittaker said in an Instagram post on Saturday morning. Romero and Rockhold will compete in a five-round bout with a belt on the line as the promotion is introducing yet another interim title. "All the best to Yoel and Luke for their fight and I'll be waiting". Whittaker just became the official champion after former champ Georges St-Pierre vacated the title following his third-round submission win over former champ Michael Bisping in the main event of November 4's UFC 217. Heading into the Whittaker fight, Romero had won eight consecutive fights, six of the wins coming by knockout.

The middleweight champion will fight Luke Rockhold in February.

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Yoel Romero to replace middleweight champ Robert Whittaker at UFC 221