UFC 248 — scheduled to go down on March 7, 2020, inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada — just suffered a huge blow, as former Middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, has been forced to bow out of his fight against Jared Cannonier. That’s according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, who revealed that “The Reaper” pulled out of the pivotal 185-pound clash for “undisclosed personal reasons.”
Robert Whittaker is out his March 7 UFC 248 fight against Jared Cannonier due to undisclosed personal reasons, sources say. UFC efforting to keep Cannonier on the card but no opponent locked in yet, I’m told.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 15, 2020
Robert Whittaker is out his March 7 UFC 248 fight against Jared Cannonier due to undisclosed personal reasons, sources say. UFC efforting to keep Cannonier on the card but no opponent locked in yet, I’m told.
It’s a tough blow for Whittaker, who spent the majority of his title reign on the sidelines due to one injury after another. Whittaker’s last outing at UFC 243 saw him cough up his title to Israel Adesanya last October, snapping his nine-fight win streak (see it).
Moments after the news broke, Whittaker released a statement about having to withdraw.
“Apologies to all my friends and supporters, but unfortunately I won’t be competing at the UFC 248 fight card,” read Whittaker’s statement. “There are a few other things going on in my life that I need to give priority to and sort out, so I have had to change my plans. But I’ll be back soon bigger and better than ever. Sorry Jared ... I’ll see you down the track.”
The promotion is now looking for a suitable replacement willing to step in to face “Killa Gorilla.” Thankfully, because the event is two months out, UFC officials have ample time to convince someone to take on the hard-hitting combatant.
UFC 248 currently features a women’s Strawweight title fight between division queenpin, Weili Zhang, defending her strap against former champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. That said, Israel Adesanya recently stated that he would be headlining the event by defending his 185-pound title for the first time against Yoel Romero.