Shortly after winning the UFC middleweight title with an exciting, third-round submission of Michael Bisping, Georges St-Pierre vacated that title, citing ongoing health concerns that will likely keep him out of action for some time. In the wake of this development, the UFC promoted its interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker to undisputed champion.
Whittaker’s first defense as undisputed middleweight champion is now set, as he’s scheduled to take on former champion Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC 221, which goes down this February 11 in Perth, Western Australia.
Earlier this week, Whittaker and Rockhold took the stage in Perth for a press conference, and of course, their first staredown together. See that staredown at the top of this post.
From the early vantage point, it seems that Whittaker, who used to compete as a welterweight, will be the notably smaller man in the cage against the hulking Rockhold. That said, his speed has been his best weapon of late, so it might not matter.
Robert Whittaker captured the interim title back in July, with a decision win over the streaking Yoel Romero. With this win, he increased his current win-streak to eight straight. This streak is highlighted by wins over Romero, Ronald “Jacare” Souza, Derek Brunson, Rafael Natal, Uriah Hall, and Brad Tavares. He’s 19-4 overall.
Luke Rockhold, meanwhile, recently returned to the cage to stop former World Series of Fighting two-division champ David Branch with second-round punches. With this dominant win, he rebounded from a massive upset loss to Michael Bisping, which marked the end of his reign as UFC middleweight champion. Rockhold, who also wore gold in the Strikeforce middleweight division, is now 16-3 overall.
At present the only other confirmed bouts for UFC 221 are a flyweight contest between Jussier “Formiga” da Silva and Ben Nguyen, and a light heavyweight clash between Tyson Pedro and Saparbek Safarov.
Who do you think wins this Robert Whittaker vs. Luke Rockhold title fight?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 11/12/2017.