With the announcement yesterday that Georges St. Pierre is vacating his UFC Middleweight Title, the current interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was elevated to undisputed champion.
Whittaker was hoping for a shot at GSP, but instead, he’ll have to settle for Luke Rockhold, the former champion who was dethroned by Michael Bisping. The title bout will take place in the main event of UFC 221 on February 10, 2018 in Perth, Australia.
Whittaker has gone undefeated since moving up to the 185 pound division, scoring impressive victories over Jacare Souza, Derek Brunson and Yoel Romero to claim the belt.
Rockhold went on a similarly impressive run to capture the title, but was shockingly knocked out by Michael Bisping in one of 2016’s biggest upsets. He returned to the Octagon this past September, scoring a second round stoppage victory over David Branch.
Here’s what MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas had to say about the contest:
“Robert Whittaker has proven himself against the best in the division, showcasing elite takedown defense, fast hands and serious power at 185 pounds. He’s passed every test with flying colors thus far, but Luke Rockhold will be a major threat due to his size advantage and his elite ground game. If Rockhold puts Whittaker on his back, he could finish him via TKO or submission, but that’s easier said than done. Rockhold’s biggest weakness is his durability, as he could wilt if Whittaker connects with a heavy barrage of punches or kicks. With that in mind, I’m opening Whittaker the slight betting favorite at -125 with the comeback on Rockhold being -105.”
Whittaker has since jumped to a -170 betting favorite due to heavy early public action since the line was opened at Several Bookmakers.