While he may not have won the interim UFC Middleweight Title due to missing weight, Yoel Romero still provided a strong, shocking knockout, defeating Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC 221 from the Perth Arena in Perth, Australia.
Romero was a different fighter when compared to his fight with current champion Robert Whittaker back in July at UFC 213. He did not come out firing in the first round and stayed patient, though Rockhold kept a fairly equal pace. Rockhold attempted to throw some leg kicks that were checked, and from early on it was clear his legs took damage from those checks.
The second round saw Romero pick up the pace, swarming Rockhold with several flurries of punches. To the former middleweight champion’s credit, however, he was taking the punches and trying to keep the distance with some kicks.
But everything came crashing down in the third when Romero unleashed a hook-uppercut combination to send Rockhold to the canvas and knock him out cold.
In the post-fight interview, Romero claimed that he thinks he may have broken his leg during the bout. Romero, along with Rockhold, were both transported to a hospital following the event.
Despite Romero missing weight and not getting the interim title, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported that UFC President Dana White said Romero may be next in line for a title shot against Whittaker in the future.
Asked Dana White if plan is to have Yoel Romero fight Robert Whittaker next, despite the fact he didn’t win an interim title tonight.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) February 11, 2018
The full UFC 221 card, as listed by MMA Fighting:
UFC 221 Main Card (10 p.m. ET, PPV):
For the interim UFC Middleweight Title (only Rockhold is eligible): Yoel Romero def. Luke Rockhold via KO (Rd. 3, 1:48)
Heavyweight: Curtis Blaydes def. Mark Hunt via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-28)
Heavyweight: Tai Tuivasa def. Cyril Asker via TKO (Rd. 1, 2:18)
Welterweight: Jake Matthews def. Li Jingliang via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-26)
Light Heavyweight: Tyson Pedro def. Saparbek Safarov via submission (kimura) (Rd. 1, 3:54)
UFC 221 Preliminary Card (8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
Lightweight: Dong Hyun Kim def. Damien Brown via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Middleweight: Israel Adesanya def. Rob Wilkinson via TKO (Rd. 2, 3:37)
Featherweight: Alexander Volkanovski def. Jeremy Kennedy via TKO (Rd. 2, 4:57)
Flyweight: Jussier Formiga def. Ben Nguyen via submission (rear-naked choke) (Rd. 3, 1:43)
UFC 221 Early Preliminary Card (6:30 p.m., UFC Fight Pass):
Lightweight: Ross Pearson def. Mizuto Pearson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Bantamweight: Jose Quinonez def. Teruto Ishihara via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Welterweight: Luke Jumeau def. Daichi Abe via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 28-27)