Robert Whittaker out of UFC 221 title fight with Luke Rockhold

Robert Whittaker fights Cuban Yoel Romero

Whittaker was installed as the full-time middleweight champion after Georges St-Pierre vacated the belt he won off of Michael Bisping at UFC 217 in November when it was discovered he was battling ulcerative colitis.

It will be the first time the UFC has staged an event in Western Australia, and Whittaker admits he is devastated not to be fighting on the card.

"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".

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The UFC made the decision to do so after Whittaker was forced to withdraw from the event, at which he was supposed to defend his recently upgraded strap against Luke Rockhold, due to an undisclosed injury.

"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.

It's an especially devastating hit for an already lacking pay-per-view, which features Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes in the co-main but not much else that would justify calling it a true pay-per-view-worthy event.

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"All I can do is focus on getting healthy to come back better than ever". In a very active division, Rockhold and Romero have never faced each other.

A former Cuban Olympic silver-medalist wrestler, Romero was scheduled to face Branch at a UFC Fight Night event on February 24. This fight at UFC 221 will be the second interim title in that division in the past year.

Because of the change in main event, fans will be able to request full refunds of purchased tickets for UFC 221.

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