Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, is planning to make his mixed martial arts (MMA) return “midyear” after battling a Staph infection that spread to his stomach.
Get all the gory details here.
In his absence, former 185-pound titleholder Luke Rockhold will throw hands with top division contender Yoel Romero for the substitute strap in the UFC 221 pay-per-view (PPV) main event later this month in Whittaker’s backyard of Perth.
And he’s ready for either fighter to emerge victorious (via Submission Radio).
”When they offered this outcome to me I was delighted. The number one and number two contenders get to bash each other, and I was just like, ‘yes, good, please’. You know, as a fan of this sport I would’ve paid to watch this fight. This is the fight other people want to see. And I’m more than happy to bash Yoel again, or I’m more than happy to give it to Rockhold as well. We’ll see. I’m just focused on recovering. I’m gonna let Yoel and Rockhold punch a bit, but things are good and I’m looking for a big return mid-year. So let’s see what happens.”
Whittaker (19-4) is already back inside the ring training.
The 27 year-old “Reaper” closed out 2016 as interim titleholder, thanks to a five-round unanimous decision win over Romero at UFC 213, then became true champion when Georges St-Pierre vacated his strap to
spend his money deal with colitis.
As for Michael Bisping, who turned the division upside down with his St-Pierre super fight, he’s now the loser of two straight and on the verge of retirement, while middleweight spoiler Kelvin Gastelum remains the odd man out.
Hopefully these next few months will restore order to the 185-pound weight class.