Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold will look to reclaim divisional gold tomorrow night (Sat., Feb. 10, 2018) at UFC 221 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Perth Arena in Perth, Australia, when he takes on Cuban powerhouse Yoel Romero.
While Rockhold was originally scheduled to take on current UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, Romero is a good consolation prize after “Bobby Knuckles” withdrew from UFC 221 due to staph infection.
Despite the change in opponent, Rockhold’s head coach, Javier Mendez, remains supremely confident that his fighter can take out “Soldier of God.” Mendez believes Rockhold maintains a huge advantage in every department not only against Romero, but also Whittaker.
“It’s hard to say [who is the worse match-up for Luke Rockhold] because they both have different strengths,” said Mendez in a recent interview with Submission Radio (shown above). “Yoel [Romero] is very explosive, great wrestling, but [Robert] Whittaker is good everywhere and a very dangerous striker. They’re both different, but the thing is with Luke, Luke’s good everywhere. So Luke can finish those guys in every department, where they can’t. They can’t finish Luke everywhere, they can’t finish Luke on the ground, they can’t do this with Luke. Luke can do that to anybody.”
Romero is one of the most dangerous outs in the UFC’s middleweight division, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he was able to defeat Rockhold at UFC 221. That said, Mendez believes Romero’s lone opportunity to overthrow Rockhold in the main event and capture the interim 185-pound title is to land one special strike.
“So, [Rockhold]’s the more well-rounded of the two and he can finish the fight anywhere with both of those guys,” said Mendez. “So, that’s where I think we have the advantage, and Luke’s mind is very sharp and he believes that that’s exactly what he can do – finish it anywhere, and he can. It’s gonna be a methodical type of fights that if Yoel doesn’t get that lucky strike in – well, I shouldn’t call it lucky, because he meant to do it – but, that’s his only chance. He’s not gonna outpoint Luke and he’s not gonna out-grapple Luke – he can wrestle Luke, but this isn’t wrestling, this is MMA.”
Unfortunately for Rockhold, Romero has been able to score countless one-strike knockouts throughout his UFC career, including a flying knee finish against former UFC champion Chris Weidman back at UFC 205.
Rockhold will have to be on his game to walk through a proven contender like Romero, but we’ve seen the California native dominate some of the best fighters in the world so nothing will come as a surprise this weekend in Perth.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 221 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.