Yoel Romero is looking to get revenge on current middleweight champion, Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker with a rematch set for UFC 225 on June 9th in Chicago. The pair went head-to-head in UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas last year, with the Whittaker taking the interim title by unanimous decision, later being elevated to official champion, making him the first Australian fighter to hold a title.
Since making a move to middleweight, Whittaker is proving to be an unstoppable force, defeating Derek Brunson and Ronaldo Souza by TKO. While Whittaker was supposed to defend his title against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in January, a serious staph infection sidelined the middleweight champ. A quick recovery has seen the much anticipated 2.0 fight with Romero materialize, with Yoel Romero looking for a shot at the title, making the upcoming bout even more exciting.
Will Romero get his revenge? Can Whittaker make a full recovery and defend his UFC middleweight title?
What Happened in UFC 213?
Whittaker won the UFC interim middleweight fight on unanimous decision, although it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Romero was dominant in the two rounds and had Whittaker on the defense. A hyperextended left knee by Whittaker in the first was also a slight setback, with Romero looking to capitalize.
With his back against the wall, Whittaker put the pressure on in the third. Some impressive strikes hit their target and Whittaker’s exceptional takedown defense (91% going into the fight), meant the Aussie was able to get back on top and gain control.
Both men looked tired going into the fifth and final round. Accurate kicks to the body tired Romero and a slip in the final minute was the opportunity Whittaker needed to take the round. UFC 213 was an exciting match that went down to the wire with Whittaker taking the glory as the new interim UFC middleweight champion.
The Rematch: Romero Vs Whittaker II
The much-anticipated Romero vs Whittaker II bout is shaping up to be a big night. The latest MMA fight odds from bookmarkers have Whittaker show negative money lines across the board for the Aussie, meaning he is the overwhelming favorite. However, it may not be a clear run for Whittaker, as it has been a long road back following a life-threatening staph infection that saw him sidelined for UFC 221 against Luke Rockhold.
Whittaker hasn’t had a UFC fight since his last meeting with Romero. A nightmare stretch of injuries and illnesses saw the Aussie bed-ridden for several weeks on antibiotics and an unfortunate case of the chickenpox severely hindered any training.
While Whittaker pulled out of UFC 221, Romero stepped in to save the main event with limited preparation. The Cuban Missile overpowered Rockhold with his aggression and relentless attack, leaving the American reeling on the floor after an overhand left in the third. A left hook sealed the deal and delivered one of the most devastating knockouts of the year. However, it didn’t all go Romero’s way with the Cuban missing weight by 2.7 pounds and forfeiting his chance at the interim middleweight title.
UFC 221 Romero vs Rockhold
After the impressive knockout of Rockhold, and missing his chance at the interim middleweight title, Romero will be full of confidence and eager to make amends in the coming bout.
Who Will Win?
Romero is one of the best wrestlers in the UFC, taking home a Silver medal in wrestling at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. He’s got freakish athletic ability and strength to match, packing a devastating punch, finishing 11 of his 13 wins by KO. The most recent against Rockhold proves that even at 40, he’s still a force to be feared in the octagon.
However, Whittaker’s takedown defense is second-to-none, and the unfortunate hiatus in the octagon has given him plenty of time to rest and recover. Granted, he did lose weeks of training, although the slight injuries he’s previously taken into fights before should be completely healed, and he will be ready to go.
Both competitors have a chance at winning, as the last fight could have gone either way. However, with Romero’s age against him, and Whittaker in the prime of his career, it could be the case that the Aussie gets over the line again.
Don’t Miss the Action at UFC 225
UFC 225 is billed to be a massive event. The rematch might look very different to the original if Romero is on top of his game. There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding Whittaker’s preparation, although, all we know is that this fight is one you shouldn’t miss.