It’s official — the UFC is opting to utilize an interim championship once again, booking a middleweight title fight between Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker at this Summer’s UFC 213. A women’s bantamweight title fight between champ Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko will headline the card. The promotion announced the booking Tuesday.
Middleweight champion Michael Bisping recently saw a potential windfall fall through when Georges St. Pierre announced he wasn’t ready to return until after October. After Bisping stated that he was injured and unable to return to action anyway, the UFC looked at a potential interim title bout, which they are now forging ahead with.
Romero (12-1) has been considered the number one contender in the middleweight ranks since a flying knee knockout of former champion Chris Weidman at UFC 205 last November. The Cuban Olympic Silver Medalist (in freestyle wrestling) has faced frequent controversy in his UFC career, however. There were his controversial remarks after the U.S. legalized gay marriage. The infamous “stoolgate” incident against Tim Kennedy, when Romero failed to answer the bell between rounds. And then a six month USADA suspension for a drug test failure later determined to be the result of a contaminated supplement.
Australia’s Robert Whittaker (19-4), meanwhile, has been on a tear since 2014, winning seven straight bouts in the 185lb division. He’s most recently coming off a massive knockout of Jacare Souze at UFC on Fox 24.
Romero vs. Whittaker will serve as the co-main event of the UFC 213 card. A previously announced title fight between featherweight champ Cody Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw, serving as coaches on the current season of The Ultimate Fighter, has been removed from the event due to Garbrandt’s ongoing back issues.
The main event, meanwhile, will see a rematch between champ Amanda Nunes (14-4) and Valentina Shevchenko (14-2). The pair first met in March 2016 at UFC 196. Nunes took a unanimous decision win that evening. Shevchenko has won both her fights since that night.
UFC 213 takes place July 8 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.