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UFC 221: Luke Rockhold, ‘Fighter to Watch’ tonight in Perth

UFC 221 Perth Workouts Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images

Fight fans can take a deep breath and relax. After some deliberation following Yoel Romero’s botched weigh cut, former UFC light heavyweight champion Luke Rockhold has agreed to still fight “Soldier of God” later tonight (Sat., Feb. 10, 2018) at UFC 221 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Perth Arena in Perth, Australia.

While Romero will not be eligible to claim the interim UFC middleweight championship with a win over Rockhold, Rockhold can still capture gold with a win over Romero. It isn’t the most ideal situation for a main event leading an already weak PPV card, but such is life. At least we’ll still get to see two of the best 185-pound fighters in the world go head-to-head.

With Romero’s title aspirations on hold, most of the limelight will be cast upon Rockhold tonight at UFC 221 as he aims to capture his second middleweight championship. After all, if Rockhold is unable to defeat Romero then this entire interim title fight business was for nothing. Romero wouldn’t be able to claim the belt and current UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will still be the undisputed king.

Nevertheless, Rockhold has the opportunity to make all of it worthwhile and put his stamp on middleweight history. The 33-year-old veteran is still trying to regain full momentum after getting knocked out by Michael Bisping and losing his first title at UFC 199. Rockhold rebounded nicely with a submission finish over former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) champion David Branch this past September, but will all due respect, Branch is not in the same neighbor of middleweight wrecking balls as Romero is.

With one of the most dangerous opponents in the division in his way, Rockhold is going to have to be on his game this weekend in Perth if he wants to outpoint “Soldier of God” like Whittaker did just seven months ago. Rockhold may be just about the only 185-pound fighter on the UFC roster to match Romero’s physical and athletic capabilities so it’ll be interesting to see what happens when the two middleweights tie it up. Rockhold must avoid Romero’s early power shots to keep his wits about him, but the former UFC champion is a phenomenal gameplanner who understands how to pace his output and remain effective for all five rounds.

We will have to wait and see how Romero’s two-pound weight advantage plays out, but for now Rockhold should still be considered the betting favorite for UFC 221’s main event title fight.

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.