Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Robert Whittaker Injured & Off UFC 221, Interim Champion To Be Crowned

Robert Whittaker Injured & Off UFC 221, Interim Champion To Be Crowned

DISASTER has struck the UFC's debut event in WA with Australian middleweight champion Robert Whittaker forced to withdraw through injury. UFC officials told ESPN that Whittaker will face the victor in a unification bout. 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.

Whittaker was an obvious choice to headline the event, as he is the first Australia-based champion in UFC history.

The turn of events is also a blow to the UFC's seeming attempts to get some of their most talented divisions back on track in some sense by using the old style of having champions fight top contenders, but as the past has repeatedly shown, nothing is guaranteed in the cutthroat world of the fight game - especially high-profile title fights.

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Fans will be able to request full refunds of purchased tickets for UFC 221, scheduled for February 11 at Perth Arena.

Rockhold, who trains out of American Kickboxing Academy and Combat Club, is looking to recapture a UFC title.

While Whittaker vs. Rockhold was a compelling fight, the event features no other global draws outside fan-favorite heavyweight Mark Hunt, who is set to face the unheralded Curtis Blaydes. Rockhold would lose the gold in his first title defense, which came against Michael Bisping at UFC 199. Rockhold and Romero competing for an interim strap further signals to said return, but Whittaker suffering an injury is unfortunate nonetheless. In November, former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre returned from a four-year absence to win the title against Bisping at UFC 217.

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