Robert Whittaker, UFC middleweight champion was expected to have the first defense of his title against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221, this February 10 in Perth, Australia, but was pulled off from the contest due to health problems, and replaced by his most recent opponent, Yoel Romero.
No reason was given at the time of the announcement, but UFC president Dana White has now shed some light on the situation, saying a very serious infection is what sidelined Whittaker.
“He had staph infection in his stomach, and from what I understand it wasn’t treated properly, and it started to eat away parts of his organs,” White told TSN. “He’s in serious condition. So it’s going to be a minute before he’s back, I think. Hopefully it turns around quick, but that stuff is life-threatening, if not treated the right way.”
“Luckily we were able to make another great fight,” he said. “It worked out.”
Whittaker last fought in July, pounding Romero for an interim title. Whittaker 27, didn’t compete the rest of the year while dealing with a knee injury. When Georges St-Pierre beat Michael Bisping to score the undisputed middleweight title and afterward vacated that title, Whittaker was promoted to undisputed champion.
Whittaker has yet to confirm this information, but he did post on Instagram and apologized to his fans.
View this post on Instagram
I would like to apologize to all my supporters and fans of MMA for not being able to put on the show you deserve. 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…
The bout between Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero will be for the interim title and will decide who will face Robert Whittaker when he returns.
Wishing the champion Robert Whittaker a speedy recovery.