UFC's Whittaker, Romero rematch not ideal, but necessary

UFC's Whittaker, Romero rematch not ideal, but necessary

Javier Howell
February 12, 2018

Yoel Romero scored a vicious knockout of former champion Luke Rockhold in what was supposed to be an interim title fight at UFC 221 on Saturday night in Perth, Australia.

Already ranked as the division's number-one contender, Romero's victory is likely to see him installed as the next challenger for the UFC middleweight title, held by Australian Robert Whittaker, who recorded a unanimous decision victory over the Cuban in July a year ago.

Romero missed weight Friday and therefore was ineligible to win the belt despite landing two devastating left hands to finish Rockhold at 1:28 of the third round.

However, this is no longer the case, as according to ESPN's Brett Okamoto, Romero will still have a chance to face Whittaker for the UFC Middleweight title as the UFC president said after the fight yesterday that Romero will fight Whittaker next despite the fact he didn't win an interim title.

"If it were not for the mess up on the weight, he (Romero) would have had the interim belt".

Romero turns 41 in April but shows no signs of slowing down and still has the ability to end any fight in a heartbeat with his brutal, fight-ending power.

Despite missing weight, Romero (13-2), a two-time Olympic freestyle wrestler who won silver at the Sydney Games in 2000, posed a big threat to Rockhold's goal of gaining the title. However, several medical issues forced Whittaker off the card, forcing UFC officials to book Rockhold against Romero instead. The kicks of the first round had been replaced by a jab meaning that Romero was now merely at arm's length rather than further outside on the perimeter of kicking range.

Marcelo Golm
Marcelo Golm

Making his UFC debut on commentary, Jimmy Smith noted in the second that Rockhold seemed content at boxing range.

Tai Tuivasa on what can happen in the fight: "For me, as long as I'm fit and I feel good and I'm on point, then I'm sweet".

It's a shame Yoel Romero didn't make weight, otherwise he'd be leaving Australia with UFC gold.

On the preliminary card, Jussier Formiga and Israel Adesanya made statements, with Formiga choking Ben Nguyen unconscious after dropping him with a spinning backfist.

For Hunt, it's the second loss in his last three fights.

After Rockhold had gathered some of his scattered bearings, Romero tried to console him, something that made for a hard watch.

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