Born UFC champion Robert Whittaker apologises after withdrawing from bout

Born UFC champion Robert Whittaker apologises after withdrawing from bout

The bout was scheduled to be against former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who now has a different challenge to face come February 10th down under.

Whittaker became the first undisputed UFC champion from Australia when Canadian Georges St-Pierre vacated the middleweight title in December.

It's unclear what injury Whittaker is now dealing with, though he did suffer a knee ailment last summer in a fight for the interim title with Romero at UFC 213.

Yoel Romero, who Whittaker beat at UFC 213 to claim the interim title, will replace him against Rockhold.

Whittaker's injury with a new interim title being introduced is just the latest saga affecting the middleweight division.

A UFC official confirmed an ESPN report late Friday night. "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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UFC 221 will take place at Perth Arena for the first event in Western Australia. He defeated David Branch (21-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) back in September, and has been calling for another shot at the title since being knocked out by Michael Bisping in 2016.

"I would like to apologise to all my supporters and fans of MMA for not being able to put on the show you deserve", Whittaker wrote on his Instagram account.

In the short term, despite being well-tailored to the local audience, UFC 221 was a one-fight card for the rest of the world.

UFC Fight Night in Orlando is scheduled for February 24, with the first fights at 3:30 p.m. and the main events on the Fox network (WOFL-35 locally) beginning at 8 p.m. I wish Yoel and Lucas [Rockhold] the best.

Losing Whittaker in this title fight is a big punch to the gut for the UFC.

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