Robert Whittaker Injured, Yoel Romero To Face Luke Rockhold At UFC 221

Las Vegas NV USA Robert Whittaker walks to the octagon to fight Yoel Romero during UFC 213 at T Mobile Arena. Whittaker def. Romero via unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit Kyle Terada-U

Las Vegas NV USA Robert Whittaker walks to the octagon to fight Yoel Romero during UFC 213 at T Mobile Arena. Whittaker def. Romero via unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit Kyle Terada-U

UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has withdrawn from a scheduled title defense against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 next month due to an undisclosed injury. Robert Whittaker has been forced to withdraw from the UFC 221 card.

"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 victor of the main event".

The show must go on however on and now Cuban powerhouse Yoel Romero (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) will step in as Whittaker's replacement to fight Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) for the interim-title. In November, former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre returned from a four-year absence to win the title against Bisping at UFC 217.

St-Pierre's move allowed Whittaker to exchange his interim title for the undisputed crown, and news of the fight with Rockhold signaled a return to business for a division that had been slowed by chaos for the past year. Whittaker (19-4) has won eight straight bouts in the UFC.

Romero, meanwhile, had been scheduled to face David Branch at UFC Orlando (UFC on FOX 28) on February 24. Branch will now be looking for a new opponent.

It's a major blow to the UFC's 221 pay-per-view event, which is scheduled to take place in Perth, Australia. He won the 185-pound championship in December 2015, but surrendered it to Michael Bisping in his first attempted defense.