UFC 221: Yoel Romero turns off Luke Rockhold's lights in third round

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In front of fans in Perth, Australia, Romero (13-2) was patient, looking for his opening. and it came in the third round when he dropped Rockhold with a big left hand. Despite winning the bout, he could not capture the interim belt, due to missing weight.

And on fight night, Romero dished out a vicious knockout to beat the former Strikeforce middleweight champion. Whittaker won and was then elevated to official champion late past year after St-Pierre beat Bisping and immediately dropped the belt. First, the man named middleweight champion after Georges St-Pierre vacated the belt without defending it, Robert Whittaker, contracted a staph infection in his stomach and was forced to withdraw from his first title defense against Luke Rockhold.

The Cuban fighter had previously fought for the UFC Interim Middleweight Title, losing to Whittaker at UFC 213.

"It seems to make intuitive sense - the No.1 and No.2 competing", UFC senior vice president David Shaw said.

Rockhold on the canvas
GETTY Rockhold was out for the count after the follow-up strike

Things finally appeared to be returning to normal at that point, as Whittaker booked a title defense against former champion Luke Rockhold. There's no doubt though that the re-shuffling of UFC 221 has led to a very messy situation at the top of the middleweight division. Round one started with Rockhold throwing a leg kick that Yoel Romero checked, which caused a cut on Luke's leg. If this was the case, it would delay when Romero's next fight would be. It's hard to believe such an explosive, powerful, and fast athlete is 40 years old.

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.

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. The problem is no one else stands out as the next contender in line. It was an interesting match-up on paper, as Romero would likely look to get Rockhold out of the bout early, having accepted the fight on short notice. "So there's a bit of time to figure out what's going to happen in the weight division".

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