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Robert Whittaker issues statement on UFC 221 removal: ‘I’ve been ruled medically unable to compete’

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UFC 221 Perth Media Opportunity Photo by Daniel Carson/Getty Images

Fight fans woke up to bad news earlier today (Sat., Jan. 13, 2018) when it was revealed that UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker had been forced out of his first title defense opposite Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 on Feb. 11 due to an undisclosed injury.

As a means of saving the Australian card from complete disaster, UFC has brought in Yoel Romero to fight Rockhold for the interim title.

In a recent Instagram post (shown below), Whittaker took a moment to not only apologize to fight fans everywhere, but reassure the mixed martial arts (MMA) world that he will be back healthier and better than ever.

“I would like to apologize to all my supporters and fans of MMA for not being able to put on the show you deserve,” wrote Whittaker. “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...”

While Whittaker’s exact injury is unknown at this time, it was apparently significant enough to force him out of a fight one month from now. It’s likely that the UFC champion wanted to remain on the card, but being “ruled medically unable to compete” immediately nixes any hope of pushing through the injury.

This is obviously an unfortunate turn of events, especially considering Whittaker was pegged to defend his title in front of his home crowd, but Rockhold vs. Romero is one hell of a fight. Hopefully Whittaker can make a full recovery and return to action to unify the 185-pound belt this summer.

Stick with Mania for ongoing updates.