The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight division is, quite frankly, a mess.
That’s because Michael Bisping, who captured the crown from Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 in June of 2016, decided to roll the dice and put his belt up for grabs against former welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre.
Then came up snake eyes and dropped the strap.
With St-Pierre gone (because of this), Robert Whittaker went from interim titleholder to true champion — only to succumb to Staph infection and withdraw from UFC 221, which airs on pay-per-view (PPV) this Saturday night (Feb. 10, 2018) from Perth, Australia.
As a result, “The Reaper” is benched until later this year, leaving Rockhold to welcome top contender Yoel Romero to the land “down under” for yet another interim title fight, in what will end the Cuban’s steady diet of “sloppy seconds.”
“People forget very quickly what I’ve done and who I’ve beaten, how I’ve beaten them,” said Rockhold, who captured wins over the likes of Tim Kennedy, Ronaldo Souza, Lyoto Machida, and Chris Weidman long before Romero did.
“Yoel Romero has been taking my sloppy seconds for years,” he continued. “Proving myself against a guy like [him] will speak for itself. Putting him away ... Whittaker couldn’t do it, they had a close fight. No one has really been able to hurt this guy. I’m gonna break him.”
The only person to break Romero (12-2) is former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael Cavalcante back in late 2011. Since then -- Stool Gate notwithstanding — the 40 year-old “Soldier of God” was perfect, prior to going down on points to Whittaker at UFC 213 last July.
As for Rockhold (16-3), he took some time off to hash out his issues with promotion president Dana White, then returned last September to dismantle David Branch in Pittsburgh. Now 33, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion will need a big performance this weekend in Perth if he hopes to stay relevant in the ever-shuffling top 10 (see it here).
For much more on the upcoming UFC 221 PPV fight card click here.