Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight knockout artists Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker clashed last night (July 8, 2017) at UFC 213 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
To reiterate what I said in my preview: This bout may officially be for an interim title, but the truth was that it established which Middleweight was the best in the world.
At any rate, Romero found himself in this match up by never tasting defeat in the Octagon and knocking most of his foes senseless. The same could be said of Whittaker since his move up to 185 pounds, as the Aussie has picked apart and finished some of the world’s best en route to this battle.
Both fighters brought an interesting approach to the start of the fight. Romero did his usual stalking, but he mixed even more long kicks into his game, often to the knee. Meanwhile, Whittaker allowed there to be a ton of distance before using his own explosiveness and creative set ups to suddenly close the massive range.
Whittaker landed well early. His speed was on display, as he darted in with sudden right hands and stiff jabs. Romero adjusted by hunting for takedowns, but he was unable to keep the Aussie on his back for long. In addition to the punches, Whittaker shot some nice straight kicks up the middle into Romero’s chest. Meanwhile, Romero landed a clean straight kick to Whittaker’s knee, which damaged his leg and hampered his movement.
It was a high-action opening round.
About a minute into the second round, Romero scored his first real takedown of the fight with a well-timed double leg. Whittaker prevented him from doing much damage, and was eventually able to return to his feet after a couple minutes on control. Unfortunately for Whittaker, Romero hung onto him in the clinch, not allowing him to break away until the final minute.
It was a strong round from the wrestler.
Whittaker put on the pressure to start the second round, looking to spring in with combinations. After denying a takedown, Whittaker began to find a home for his punches, one of which seemed to stun Romero. The Olympian seemed to be slowing just a bit, allowing Whittaker to control range and pick his shots. Though Romero was still dangerous with counter punch and takedown attempts, Whittaker was able to land good shots and avoid getting hit with much in return.
Things were very much up in the air with 10 minutes remaining.
Whittaker landed a nice kick to open the round, but Romero dived back to his wrestling and forced Whittaker into the fence. This time around, Whittaker was able to scramble away with plenty of time remaining. Whittaker took some time to catch his breathe, but he then returned to backing Romero up and landing the better shots. With about a minute remaining, Whittaker landed a cracking uppercut that stunned Romero. Romero’s combination of wrestling and craftiness kept him alive, but it was another good round for the Australian.
The fifth round very well could be the decider.
Both men were tired at the start of the fifth, but Whittaker’s speed and technical edge was getting his punches to land first. Despite that, Romero’s wildness kept him dangerous, as Romero found opportunities to land his power punches too. Tired, Whittaker relied on his snap kick up the middle, which was landing consistently. However, it was Romero pushing the pace and moving forward, even if he was entirely gassed. However, with 90 seconds remaining, Whittaker was able to take top position after a counter punch/slip from Romero. He spent most of the that time just resting and controlling, but Whittaker finished the fight with some brutal elbows.
Hell of a fight, the second incredible main event in two days.
Whittaker’s will and consistent kickboxing in this match were incredible. Despite his injured leg, Whittaker kept moving and going after Romero. Romero is a horrifying fighter, but Whittaker went after him fearlessly.
It was incredible.
Whittaker’s entrances were brilliant. He feinted smoothly into range than cracked Romero for getting out of position time and time again. Plus, his ability to blend kicks and punches in combinations was masterful, where he right kicked into the cross or teeped into his left hook.
Next up for Whittaker SHOULD be Michael Bisping.
Romero fought like Romero fights. He had great moments of brilliant and violent explosion, and his wrestling was very powerful. Once Romero gets on top while fresh, it’s nearly impossible to escape his grasp.
He came just a single round away from winning the strap, and inches from connecting on certain flying knees and heavy punches. Romero did his job in living up to hype and producing one of the best fights in years.
For complete UFC 213: “Romero vs. Whittaker” results and play-by-play, click HERE!