White: With UFC champ Bisping injured, Romero and Whittaker could fight for interim belt

The UFC could soon have yet another interim title.

With current middleweight champion Michael Bisping injured, UFC President Dana White told ESPN.com the organization could crown an interim titleholder this summer.

The participants? Yoel Romero (12-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC) and Robert Whittaker (18-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC).

“We’re trying to put together that Bisping-Romero fight,” White told ESPN.com. “If (Bisping) can’t fight this summer, we’ll probably create an interim title between Romero and Robert Whittaker.”

Bisping, who’s No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, was slated to fight Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC), a former longtime welterweight champion who hasn’t been in the cage since 2013.

Things then got a little complicated. St-Pierre said he wouldn’t be ready to fight until after October. That briefly opened the door for Romero; White said the surging 40-year-old Cuban contender, who was supposed to get a title shot after his most recent win, would go back to the front of the line. But then Bisping announced earlier this week a knee injury could keep him on the sidelines until later this year.

That could open the door for Romero, who’s ranked No. 2, to fight for an interim belt. Romero is currently riding an eight-fight winning streak with recent wins over notables Chris Weidman, Ronald Souza, Lyoto Machida and Tim Kennedy. He’d fight Whittaker, a 26-year-old Australian who’s riding a seven-fight winning streak. In his most recent bout, “Bobby Knuckles” scored a TKO win over Souza to solidify his contender status.

White didn’t give a date for the potential Romero vs. Whittaker bout.

Additionally, though White recently said St-Pierre’s return is now likely to come at welterweight, both “Rush” and Bisping are still interested in fighting each other later this year.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.


Publication Date: May 19, 2017, 3:30 pm


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