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UFC 213 results: Robert Whittaker beats Yoel Romero, wins belt he probably won’t defend

UFC Fight Night: Johnson v Reis Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Top Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight contenders Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker went to war in the 213 pay-per-view (PPV) main event last night (Sat., July 8, 2017) after taking over headlining duties for the ailing Amanda Nunes.

“Lioness” was scratched from her Valentina Shevchenko fight due to illness.

That set the stage for “Soldier of God” to collide with “The Reaper” in the five-round headliner inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the winner leaving “Sin City” as the interim middleweight champion.

His name is Robert Whittaker.

The Aussie won a unanimous decision (48-47 x3), despite sustaining some knee damage early in the fight. Romero likely took the first two frames, but was outstruck as time wore on, especially after Whittaker found his rhythm.

Now that we have a substitute strap, part of me wonders if it’s ever going to be defended. Injured 185-pound champion Michael Bisping is expected to fight Georges St-Pierre in November, putting a title unification bout somewhere in the first quarter of 2018.

Would Whittaker be willing to wait 6-8 months for his next fight?

He would if it meant fighting St-Pierre, long considered the “king” of PPV buys (pre-McGregor), because that’s a once-in-a-lifetime payday. And it’s not like the division is bubbling over with contenders.

Former champion Luke Rockhold is probably next in line, but promotion president Dana White hates his guts. Then we have Gegard Mousasi, who is by all means a worthy contender, but stuck in limbo without a UFC contract.

The worst-case scenario, from a divisional integrity standpoint, is having St-Pierre win the middleweight title from Bisping, then vacate it to go back to welterweight or even worse, back to retirement.

Leaving “The Count” as the likely opponent for Whittaker — only without a belt.

There was really no reason to have an interim title in the first place. Bisping has a minor knee injury and the biggest issue at 185 pounds is St-Pierre’s slow return. If any division is in need of a temporary title it’s lightweight, as Conor McGregor log-jammed the division to go play a different sport.

At this point, there’s no reason for Whittaker to do anything but sit on his couch and wait for the winner of Bisping vs. St-Pierre. And if Bisping comes back in two months to fight Whittaker, they should just ban interim titles altogether.

For complete UFC 213: “Romero vs. Whittaker” results, including play-by-play updates, click here.

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