If UFC 221 proved anything, it’s that the middleweight division continues to be the most interesting and exciting clusterf**k of a division in the UFC.
Things have been all askew since late replacement Michael Bisping took the belt off Luke Rockhold in June of 2016, grinding the contender mill to a halt with fights against Dan Henderson and Georges St-Pierre. St-Pierre took the belt off Bisping and then vacated it, turning interim champ Robert Whittaker into the undisputed champ. Whittaker then dropped out of last night’s UFC 221 card, leaving the UFC to set up another interim fight between Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero ... that then transformed into a partial interim title fight when Romero missed weight.
Now Romero has shown just how meaningless that interim title was by destroying Rockhold and earning another shot at Whittaker anyway. As our own Jesse Holland points out, it’s hard to deny him as a worthy challenger for the real belt. But it’s hard to ignore Yoel is being rewarded with another title shot right after missing weight for this title shot. It’s also hard to ignore a disturbing new trend where fighters miss weight and then go on to clobber their opponents.
Cutting weight has become a major part of being successful in the UFC, with nutritionists acting as mad scientist in their quest to shave off massive amounts of weight before fights. The last few pounds are always the hardest, and you have to wonder how much advantage an athlete gets from not having to shed them before a fight. For a fighter like Romero that lost his last fight against Robert Whittaker after running out of gas, it’s something to ponder.
But are we being unduly harsh towards Romero? Dana White has never been one to pass up on an opportunity to throw a fighter under the bus when he feels they deserve it, but in this case he went out of his way to give Romero a pass.
”Romero took this fight on short notice when Whittaker fell out and he didn’t get a full camp,” White said. “I appreciate him stepping up and taking the fight.”
Romero himself put blame for the botched weight cut on the travel time to Australia and the sudden switch from fighting on February 24th at UFC on FOX 28 to two weeks earlier at UFC 221.
”Do you seriously think that if I had been fighting in Orlando that I would have had this issue?” he said after the win. “I happened to work really fast to get all this done for this fight, it messed up a little bit my plans for the weight cut.”
It’s one of those situations where your opinion of Yoel probably play into this current situation. He’s been caught pouring water all over himself between rounds. There was the infamous incident against Tim Kennedy where he forced extra time to recover by not getting up off his stool. And there was that USADA violation as well. All ammunition for fans who think this pants-sh*tter is not on the level. And now this!
Well, like it or not, Romero is next for Robert Whittaker (provided his leg isn’t broken, which would fit into the never-ending nightmare of the cursed middleweight division). The good news is that all this controversy and emotion will only make his future fights that much more entertaining for his fans and haters alike.