Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to the hurt business last night (Sat., Feb. 10, 2018) for UFC 221: “Rockhold vs Romero” inside Perth, Arena in Perth, Australia, which featured an interim Middleweight title fight between Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold. And it included one violent finish, as “Soldier of God” obliterated Rocky in the third and final round via devastating knockout.
In the co-main event, Curtis Blaydes picked up the biggest win of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, defeating Mark Hunt after three rounds of action (see it again here).
Biggest Winner: Yoel Romero
After missing weight by three pounds, Romero became ineligible to win the interim middleweight title — and a fight night bonus — after picking up an impressive win over Rockhold in the headlining act. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter all that much, as UFC president Dana White declared that despite his scale fail, “Soldier of God” would indeed get the next title fight. And while he may have lost some of his purse to Luke, he will have a chance to make it up when he gets a rematch against Robert Whittaker later this year. I understand some having apprehension in portraying “Soldier of God” as the big winner due to his weight issues, but if were focusing just on performance and finish, there is no question he deserves that honor, as his knockout over Luke was one of the most violent we’ve seen in a while.
Runner Up: Curtis Blaydes
After surviving an early scare in round one, Blaydes regained his composure and proceeded to smother and dominate Mark Hunt for the remainder of the fight to score a unanimous decision victory. In doing so, he collected his fifth straight win and earned himself a huge boost once the rankings are re-voted next week.
Curtis showed great composure after getting dropped by one of the hardest hitters in all the sport. Now, Blaydes can look forward to bigger and better things moving forward in his Octagon career, which has only seen him lose once to former title contender Francis Ngannou. Indeed the future look right for the towering big man, who is still only 26 years of age. The challenges will only get tougher, but the young contender has shown he has what it takes to surpass even the biggest of tests.
Biggest Loser: Luke Rockhold
You have to feel for Luke, even if just a little bit. After losing out on his chance to fight for the “real” Middleweight strap against division champion Robert Whittaker, he accepted a fight against Yoel Romero for the interim strap. To make things worse, Romero didn’t make weight, which always irks the man or woman his did take the proper steps to hit the mark. And to top it off, he was knocked out in the third and final round of a fight he was on his way to winning. Now, not only did he not win an interim strap, but he lost out on his chance to reclaim his title and will have an even tougher road to get back to the big dance after getting knocked out for the second time in his last three fights.
For full UFC 221: Rockhold vs Romero” play-by-play updates and results click here.