Injured Whittaker pulls out of title bout

UFC interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been forced to withdraw from his title fight with Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in Perth next month.

Whittaker told ESPN that he was ‘beyond disappointed’ that he will miss the chance to fight on home soil in Australia due to the undisclosed injury.

The top-ranked middleweight issued a statement on social media saying that he had been ruled ‘medically unable’ to fight at next month’s event.

“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 wrote. “I’ve been ruled medically unable to compete and wont be able to defend on home soil. This card meant so much to me and I’m devastated for not being able to fight. All I can do is focus on getting healthy to come back better than ever. All the best to Yoel and Luke for their fight and ill be waiting…”

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

UFC 221 takes place on February 11 at the Perth Arena.