UFC 221: GSP Vacates Middleweight Title, Robert Whittaker to Defend Belt Against Luke Rockhold

UFC 213 UFC 221 Robert Whittaker
Credit: Mike Sloan/Sherdog.com

After just 33 days, Georges St. Pierre’s middleweight title reign has come to an end. Robert Whittaker will defend the undisputed belt against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221.

TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter first reported the middleweight title shakeup, and the title fight added to UFC 221.

Georges St. Pierre won his middleweight title at UFC 217 in spectacular fashion, choking out Michael Bisping to cap off a great performance. However, he does not intend on defending his belt, or unifying the title with interim belt-holder Robert Whittaker. St. Pierre stated that he does not want to hold up the division as he gets healthy, and will therefore vacate his title.

As a result of this, interim champion Robert Whittaker has been promoted to undisputed champion, and already has a bout scheduled. The New Zealander will battle former champion Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia.

Rockhold has fought just once since failing to achieve his first title defense against Michael Bisping two summers ago, defeating David Branch by submission in an exciting main event earlier this year.

Robert Whittaker has torn through the middleweight division, defeating the likes of Uriah Hall, Derek Brunson, and Jacare Souza before winning the interim belt against Yoel Romero earlier this year. Bobby Knuckles has yet to be defeated in his seven middleweight bouts in the UFC.

One man who is unhappy about this booking is Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum has impressed many since moving to 185-pounds, defeating Tim Kennedy, Vitor Belfort, and Michael Bisping in decisive fashion. A loss against former champion Chris Weidman prior to his last fight seems to have dampened his title hopes. Gastelum stated that Whittaker took the “easy road” by defending his title against Rockhold first.

UFC 221 will take place on February 11 from the Perth Arena in Perth, Australia. In addition to the headlining bout of Robert Whittaker vs. Luke Rockhold, Jussier Formiga takes on Ben Nguyen in an exciting flyweight bout, and Tyson Pedro looks to get back on track against Saparbek Safarov.