Yoel Romero defeated former UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold by third round knockout in the main event of UFC 221. The 33-year-old's face was the evidence. The kicks of the first round had been replaced by a jab meaning that Romero was now merely at arm's length rather than further outside on the perimeter of kicking range.
These are the types of young, emerging prospects everyone needs to be paying attention to going forward and the kind of potential local stars the capacity crowd in Perth paid to see. It ended the fight. None was more devastating than the final blow. Romero will need to hurt Rockhold early and often. He flipped a switch in the Round 2 and came out came out with swinging like vintage Mike Tyson.
After missing weight by three pounds, Romero was deemed ineligible to claim the interim middleweight belt that was on the line. And that's what he got.
Yoel Romero stands over Luke Rockhold after dropping him.
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Romero came out charging in Round 2 and didn't relent in Round 3. "I had six- and seven-round sparrings". "I had no worries whatsoever in terms of cardio". Rockhold was reportedly awarded 30% of Romero's purse which is said to have totalled about $100,000. He initially weighed 188 pounds but got down to only 187.7 with a two-hour allotment. However despite the unbelievable victory, one has to wonder what's next for Yoel Romero. "Some (expletive) as usual". Unfortunately, he didn't earn the interim title, because he failed to make weight the night before.
Rockhold and Romero eventually agreed to fight shortly before the card was scheduled to begin. He has since returned to training.
An Olympic silver medal-winning freestyle wrestler for Cuba at the Sydney 2000 Games, it has been Romero's raw power that has carried him in his UFC career.
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.
That fight could take place as early as June. Rockhold is a very good athlete and an unbelievable fighter.