Yoel Romero pulled off UFC Orlando card; fight with David Branch canceled


The bout was scheduled to be against former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who now has a different challenge to face come February 10th down under.

UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker's homecoming fight in Australia is not going to happen.

It's unclear what injury Whittaker is now dealing with, though he did suffer a knee ailment last summer in a fight for the interim title with Romero at UFC 213.

The man Whittaker beat to earn interim gold last summer, Yoel Romero, will take his place.

"I'm beyond disappointed that I'm unable to defend the title in my home country of Australia".

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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. The new main event at UFC 221 will still have championship gold resting in the balance as Rockhold vs. Romero will fight for an interim strap with the victor facing Whittaker in a unification bout later in 2018.

The bout was going to headline UFC 221 inside Perth Arena in Perth, Western Australia. A main event for the show is also yet to be determined, but Romero vs. Branch was the contest featured in advertising for the show when tickets went on sale Friday.

A former Cuban Olympic silver-medalist wrestler, Romero was scheduled to face Branch at a UFC Fight Night event on February 24. In November, former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre returned from a four-year absence to win the title against Bisping at UFC 217. St-Pierre ultimately defeated Bisping to become champion but then he vacated the belt just a few weeks later.

Prior to that loss, Romero had won eight in a row, including six by knockout.