Yoel Romero Knocks Out Luke Rockhold Clean Cold In Disturbing KO
The main event at UFC 221 was a clash for the interim title between top middleweight contenders Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold.
While it was never officially announced by the UFC, the promotion was initially targeting a middleweight championship unification bout between then-champion Georges St-Pierre and interim champ Robert Whittaker to serve as the main event.
But that all went to custard when GSP announced that he was considering his future in the division after discovering that he had ulcerative colitis.
St-Pierre subsequently vacated the belt in December and Whittaker was elevated to undisputed champion.
The Aussie striker was expected to defend his belt against Luke Rockhold in the main event but on January 13, it was announced that he’d pulled out of the bout and was replaced by Yoel Romero.
Speaking at the pre-fight press conference, Rockhold said that the change in opponents wasn’t a big deal because he expected to fight Romero after beating Whittaker and that if he vanquished the Cuban more convincingly than Whittaker did, he will be “the real champion” anyway.
“Slight difference but this was bound to happen one way or the other. Whittaker would have been first, Yoel would’ve been second. Yoel’s first, so Whittaker will be second. I’m up for the task. I’m not lacking in any way. I’m prepared to fight the best guys in the world. It’s a shame it’s not gonna be for the undisputed title but Whittaker beat Yoel to be the interim champion. I’m gonna beat Yoel to be the interim champion. It’s a matter of who did it better is gonna be the real champion at the end of this thing. So that’s the way I see it.”
The bookies installed Rockhold as the warm favourite at $1.67 while Romero was paying $2.20 to come away with the interim belt.
Both fighters showed patience during the first round, as they looked to work each other out. It was an uneventful round but probably went to Luke Rockhold.
During the second round, Rockhold looked vulnerable on a few occasions, with Yoel launched forward with a burst and a flurry of punches. On more than one occasion, Rockhold’s chin looked to be a bit vulnerable.
Yoel then landed a fist flush on Rockhold’s temple which instantly dropped him and appeared to have knocked him out. He then followed up with a punch that many feel marks one of the most brutal KO’s in recent time.
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