This morning, just weeks after Georges St-Pierre vacated the UFC middleweight title he ripped from Michael Bisping at UFC 217 and Robert Whittaker was promoted from interim titlist to true champion, the promotion has revealed that it will toss yet another interim belt into the 185-pound mix at UFC 221 in Perth, Western Australia next month.
Rockhold will remain in the card and in the main event, now facing late replacement Yoel Romero for the vacant UFC Interim Middleweight Championship.
"I've been ruled medically unable to compete and won't be able to defend on home soil", Whittaker said on Instagram. UFC 221 is scheduled to take place in Perth, Australia on February 3.
"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". Tickets have already gone on sale for the UFC on Fox event in Orlando without the announcement of the main event, and now the loss of this marquee fight.
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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. The former Strikeforce and UFC champ only recently returned to action following a lengthy layoff after his loss to Bisping at UFC 199, defeating former WSOF champ Branch last September.
Romero was originally scheduled to take on David Branch on February 24 as part of UFC on Fox in Orlando, Florida.
The switch is yet another odd turn in the UFC's middleweight division. Those wins included victories over Chris Weidman, Ronaldo Souza and Lyoto Machida.