UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was forced out of a planned title defense with Luke Rockhold scheduled for next month at UFC 221.

Now we know that Whittaker is dealing with a serious condition.

UFC president Dana White told TSN that Whittaker has a staph infection in his stomach that did not receive proper treatment.

“From what I understand it wasn’t treated properly and started to eat away at parts of his organs,” White said. “He’s in serious condition, so it’s going to be a minute before he’s back, I think. Hopefully it turns around quick, but that stuff is life threatening if not treated the right way.”

Whittaker (19-4) became the interim champion last month with a decision win over Yoel Romero, improving to 10-2 inside the Octagon. The UFC crowned him the undisputed champion when Georges St-Pierre relinquished his title following a victory vs. Michael Bisping.

The UFC has since decided to book Romero and Rockhold for the interim belt, but with the status of Whittaker in jeopardy, that winner could ultimately become the undisputed champion themselves.

Below is the current UFC 221 fight card from the Perth Arena in Perth, Western Australia on February 2:

MAIN CARD (PPV/10 p.m. ET)

Interim UFC Middleweight Championship
Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero

Heavyweight: Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes

Heavyweight: Tai Tuivasa vs. Cyril Asker

Welterweight: Jake Matthews vs. Li Jingliang

Light Heavyweight: Tyson Pedro vs. Saparbek Safarov


Lightweight: Damien Brown vs. Dong Hyun Kim

Middleweight: Rob Wilkinson vs. Israel Adesanya

Lightweight: Jeremy Kennedy vs. Alexander Volkanovski

Flyweight: Ben Nguyen vs. Jussier Formiga

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass/6:30 p.m. ET)

Lightweight: Mizuto Hirota vs. Ross Pearson

Bantamweight: Teruto Ishihara vs. Jose Alberto Quinonez

Welterweight: Luke Jumeau vs. Daichi Abe