New Zealand-born UFC fighter Robert Whittaker will get the title shot he has been craving when he enters the octagon against Cuban Yoel Romero at UFC 213 on July 8 in Las Vegas.

With champion Michael Bisping sidelined due to a knee injury, Whittaker has been pitched into an interim middleweight title fight with Romero, with the winner expected to face Bisping in a unification bout later this year.

"He's a tough dude," Whittaker said of Romero. "He's got a lot of experience at Olympic-level wrestling. I've got a lot of respect for him and I'll be training my absolute ass off for this fight. Come fight night we'll see who can put their plan into action.

"My game plan is obviously going to be to keep him standing."


Whittaker, who is based in Australia, is fresh off a brilliant second round knockout of Brazilian Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, a victory which extended his winning streak to seven. He is unbeaten since his move to 185 pounds (83.91kg).

Romero, 40, won a silver medal in wrestling for Cuba at the Sydney Olympics and boasts an imposing 13-1 record.

Whittaker, 26, becomes the third Australian/New Zealander to fight for a UFC title.
Elvis Sionsic lost to Tito Ortiz for the light-heavyweight crown in 2001 and Mark Hunt was defeated by Fabricio Werdum for the interim heavyweight strap in 2014.

The Romero-Whittaker bout will be the co-main event alongside a women's bantamweight title bout between champion Amanda Nunes and Valentine Shevchenko.