Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero had themselves a fight of the year contender last night, in what would have been the greatest title fight in middleweight history were it not for .2 pounds. That’s the margin Romero missed weight by, a failure for which he blames the commission, who stopped him from cutting weight further. Of course, their reasoning probably included that he was in pretty bad shape, which just makes his performance in the Octagon more unbelievable.
Robert Whittaker had this to say:
He hits like a truck. I know he looks weak, but he packs some power, I’ll tell you that much.
Whittaker turned in an unbelievable performance himself, surviving Romero’s rocket right hand on some courage-fueled mix of chin, stamina and grit. His own right hand was a weapon badly damaged; he said afterwards he broke it in the first round, and it was totally numb up to his elbow.
That makes what he did even more remarkable, absorbing 111 strikes and dishing out 128 for a new middleweight five-round record.
Official: Whittaker (128) and Romero (111) combine for 239 significant strikes landed, a new five-round middleweight record. #UFC225— Michael Carroll (@MJCflipdascript) June 10, 2018
Which brings us to the debate: how did Robert Whittaker win exactly? He won because not a single judge sitting cageside saw fit to give out any 10-8 rounds, a baffling decision that had Joe Rogan, Jimmy Smith and Jon Anik shaking their collective bald heads. While round 3 was a back-and-forth affair that saw Whittaker survive a huge early knockdown to dish some significant damage of his own, including a highlight-reel head kick, round 5 was all Romero, including a knockdown and another incredible recovery from Whittaker as he battled through a mix of Romero’s wrestling and heat-seeking punches to see the final bell. Under the new scoring rules, it’s hard to understand how that wasn’t a 10-8 round, which would have made the bout a majority draw (with two of three judges giving Whittaker the 4th round).
After quasi-cheating (and doing spectacular violence) his path all the way to two UFC title shots, Yoel Romero finally has found himself on the receiving end of an incredible combination of bad circumstances. Missing weight by THAT narrow a margin, while partly his fault for not bringing in professionals earlier, has to be considered unlucky. Robert Whittaker demonstrating super-human resilience to survive both Third-Round Romero™ and the heretofore unseen Fifth-Round Romero™ (Only unlocked if you get past Third-Round Romero™) was a feat only Sir Robert Knuckles himself could have pulled off. Then, to not be rewarded with a single 10-8 round — it is no wonder Romero told Rogan afterwards that, in his humble opinion, he did not lose tonight. On a normal night, he would have gone home with the belt- or at the least, a draw.
So what do you do from here? If you are the UFC, do you book Romero and Whittaker for a trilogy? On paper, Whittaker is now 2-0 vs. the Soldier of God. Also against Romero are his two failed weight cuts in a row. Romero would slot in effortlessly at light heavyweight. I would watch him fight pretty much anyone at this point- Gustafsson, Cormier if he doesn’t retire, Jon Jones himself. Yet, this division, and this rivalry, are going to feel incomplete if Romero and Whittaker don’t run this back again. No one deserving is currently waiting. Chris Weidman is 1-3 in his last four. Kelvin Gastelum beat Jacare by contentious split decision (another instance of the new ruleset for 10-8 not being applied in practice) but Dana White said Gastelum has “personal issues” he needs to work out ASAP.
They need to run it back. No matter what the score on paper, this trilogy is not finished. These two are the gods of this division, head and shoulders above everyone else. Their titanic battles have been violent delights, which deserve a violent, and conclusive, end.
Should Romero fight Whittaker a third time?
This poll is closed
Yes- they have to finish this trilogy!
No- Romero lost twice AND missed weight!
Colby Covington proved he is to some extent the real deal, out-working the workhorse Rafael Dos Anjos to bring home the Fake News belt itself. He will probably really get to put it on Donald Trump’s desk, because that’s just the world we live in, and it’s all part of Putin’s secret plan to get Khabib Nurmagomedov the welterweight title too.
Dana White says he can get Colby Covington to the White House. Said it like it will be the easiest thing in the world actually. "Can you make that happen?" "Yes, I can make that happen."— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) June 10, 2018
Woodley has the power to ice Covington, but if he doesn’t I could see him having trouble with Covington’s relentless approach. This is actually an interesting matchup. The build-up is going to be insufferable though.
Tai Tuivasa drinking out of a shoe is an amazing gimmick that shouldn’t be a real thing. Drinking PISS out of a shoe? Come on. Not even Lyoto Machida would do that.
Tuivasa just asked me for my shoe to do a shoey. I said I didn’t have alcohol. He said I can piss in it. I asked if he’s ever had that, he said hell yeah. I did not give him my shoe. pic.twitter.com/pxLmljiJhk— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 10, 2018
White: We talked to *more* fighters and they want afternoon weigh-ins #UFC225— Mike Allardyce (@mikedyce) June 10, 2018
Dana White on the upcoming switch back to afternoon weigh-ins: "No matter what, there's no debate about this. There's no debate. We're going to 4 o'clock." #UFC225— Shaheen Al-Shatti (@shaunalshatti) June 10, 2018
Sounds like Mike Jackson is done with Zuffa along with CM Punk.
White on Jackson's UFC career: That's it, I wouldn't put that guy on the Contender Series. #UFC225— Mike Allardyce (@mikedyce) June 10, 2018
Mark Hunt knows what’s up.