Yoel Romero defeated Luke Rockhhold in impressive fashion last night at UFC 221 in Australia, but the fight appeared to take its toll on him as an injured leg left him sitting on the canvas to conduct his post-fight interview and then having to be helped walk out of the Octagon afterwards.
According to the UFC's David Shaw, it's still possible Romero could get the title shot when UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker returns later this year from injury. The 40-year-old missed middleweight championship weight by 2.7lbs on Friday and this was ineligible to win the interim title that was up for grabs for Rockhold.
UFC president Dana White has told ESPN that Romero will be Whittaker's next title challenger - a rematch of a closely contested bout last July, where Whittaker (19-4) came out with a unanimous decision. "I had to work really fast to get all this done for this fight", he said.
But when Whittaker contracted a staph infection and was forced to pull out in January, Romero stepped in on short notice.
Finally, Rockhold vs. Romero was set.
His finish was his seventh, tied for third in UFC middleweight history behind Anderson Silva and Thiago Santos, each of whom had eight. Second, I'm so sorry for the weight cut.
Whittaker got the judges nod in a brilliant back-and-forth bout.
"The weight situation, I don't think that's going to play into it (when it comes to a title shot)", Shaw said after the event.
And on fight night, Romero dished out a vicious knockout to beat the former Strikeforce middleweight champion. Although these weren't massive fights for the mainstream audience or perhaps even some hardcore fans, this is exactly why these three were on the main card. Exclusive Fight Pass prelims will begin at 7:30AM (local time, GMT+8).
Obviously, this isn't a good look and it's even worse when there are questionable scorecards and especially awful when those scorecards land in favor of an Australian or New Zealand-based fighter, as they did in the opening bout of the evening. This streak is highlighted by wins over Brad Tavares, Uriah Hall, Rafael Natal, Derek Brunson, "Jacare", and of course, Romero.
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