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The main event at UFC 221 in Perth Australia was supposed to be a title fight between champ ROBERT WHITTAKER and LUKE ROCKHOLD. But with Robbie Knuckles having to pull out; it was only fair to have the man Whittaker beat face Luke. That set up the “short notice” interim middleweight title fight between YOEL ROMERO and Luke Rockhold. Of course in MMA when you think things are settled down, they never truly are. Then came the weigh-ins where Yoel missed weight by 3 pounds. He had 2 hours to get down to 185 to make the title shot official. When he stepped back on the scales it read 187.7. It took negotiations into the wee hours to finalize things. Yoel would forfeit 30% of his purse to Rockhold, and should Yoel win; he couldn’t become interim champ. A title would only be on the line for Luke. The pair didn’t really go at each other with vicious trash talk, but at the weigh-ins they had to be separated after an intense faceoff.

While Luke may be the more “well rounded” fighter; Romero’s a beast that you don’t want to bang with. Being a former Olympic wrestler, you really don’t want to go to the mat with him either. So Rockhold’s game plan early was a kicking attack. But with Yoel checking most of them it eventually opened up Luke’s left shin. He also landed his own hard kicks to Luke’s legs. Although afterwards, Romero was taken to the medical center for damage to his legs. Yoel came flying out in the second throwing and landing strikes that had Luke going backwards. Against the fence he landed body combo’s that hurt Rockhold. Luke tried to slow the pace in the 3rd but a left jab rocked him and an overhand left dropped him. Yoel then connected with a left uppercut as referee MARC GODDARD then jumped in to stop the fight at 1:48 of round 3 for the TKO.

Had Yoel been able to win the interim belt it would set up quite the situation for the UFC. Both their middleweight champ, and interim champ would be on the shelf. In a post fight interview with MEGAN OLIVI he said through a translator he believes his leg is broken. But it does set up a rematch between Robert and Yoel for the title. Where does that leave Rockhold though? Possibly a re-match vs the man he won the title from; CHRIS WEIDMAN, possibly KELVIN GASTELUM, or he can make the move up to light heavyweight; which is something he said he plans to do “sooner rather than later”. With his friend Daniel Cormier going to heavyweight, it may just clear that path for him.


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