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No interim belt, no problem: Romero KOs Rockhold at UFC 221
12 February 2018, 01:18 | Nina Perez
UFC 221 Live Stream: Watch Romero vs Rockhold online
In order to maintain (or at least portray) some semblance of order, the UFC created an interim title fight between Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero last July. The Soldier of God caught Rockhold with a huge overhand left; dropping the latter, following which he landed an uppercut to the jaw when Rockhold was already slumped against the fence; putting out his lights out. Whittaker previously defeated Romero by decision to become interim champion.
And there was good news for British fans, as lightweight veteran Ross "The Real Deal" Pearson produced a solid performance to earn a unanimous decision with scores of 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 as he ended a run of four straight defeats with a hard-earned win over Japanese fighter Mizuto Hirota.
Rockhold and Romero eventually agreed to fight shortly before the card was scheduled to begin.
Whittaker won a tough five-round fight against Romero to claim the interim title at UFC 213. However, Romero had an extra two hours of weight cutting and will have to fight less than 24 hours later.
Why they should fight: After a layoff of more than 14 months, Safarov finally resumed his UFC career with a bout against Tyson Pedro, but it didn't go very well for him.
Both fighters were transported to hospital immediately after the event - Romero suffered a shin injury so severe he had to be assisted out of the cage by his team. The look on Rockhold's face as Romero tried to profess his "love" was sheer anguish.
Another said: "Second punch wasn't a finisher, it was an assassination".
"It seems to make intuitive sense - the No.1 and No.2 competing", UFC senior vice president David Shaw said.
It was a big night for the Australian stars on the main card in Perth, with all three home fighters picking up impressive victories.
Romero missed out on the opportunity to win some hardware in the main event, though. Romero showed signs of figuring out Rockhold's timing; he had brief spurts of action in a round that would be hard to score but probably went to the former UFC champion. His next fight would be a good time to start, and after taking tough bouts, Golm (6-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) would be an appropriate but winnable matchup for him.
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