Stop me if you have heard this one before: the UFC had a main event cancelled. The good news is UFC 221 was somewhat saved with a UFC interim Middleweight Title match between Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero this Saturday.
One of the ugly factors of making Mixed Martial Arts cards is, unfortunately, what these athletes put their body through in camp can sometimes cause an injury. This leaves UFC President Dana White and his team scrambling to save a PPV or card that promised a big anticipated scrap.
The bad news hit almost a month back that UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker suffered a complication from a staph infection in his stomach. Whittaker has since recovered and is starting to get back in the gym training, where he will fight the winner of Rockhold-Romero down the road. The other sad part of this is Whittaker was going to fight in front of his family and friends in Perth, Australia right next door to his home country of New Zealand.
That leaves us with the main event, former champ and No. 1 ranked Rockhold versus No. 2 ranked Romero, the man Whittaker defeated to win the UFC Middleweight Title.
(Station Casinos, MGM Mirage)
(Westgate, William Hill)
Total: 1.5 OV -160
Rockhold (16-3) was shocked by Michael Bisping back in June of 2016. With one huge left hand Bisping dropped Rockhold and followed with a barrage of punches. Bisping was the new champion. After a layoff of one year, Rockhold took apart David Branch by second round submission via punches. Now he looks to regain his championship.
Romero (12-2) was ever so close to tasting UFC gold as he lost a calculated, hard fought fight to Whittaker back in July by unanimous decision. Romero landed a front kick in the opening round that, as Whittaker put it in the post-fight octagon interview, “it was unstable, if he would have gotten another one I would have dropped.”
While I think the total tells you there is potential for fireworks, I tend to think both fighters will respect each other enough to feel this fight out. Romero will be calculated against a dangerous, crafty fighter like Rockhold, while Rockhold won’t want to get into a firefight with Romero. It truly is a pick’em fight. OVER 1.5
Also fighting on the PPV card, one of my all-time favorites, Heavyweight slugger Mark Hunt. If you are unaware of this man do yourself a favor – do a free seven-day trial of UFC Fight Pass and spend the day watching his fights. Either he finishes a guy with a sparkling knockout or he gets the hell beat out of him. Either way it’s pretty entertaining. Just stay away from that awful Brock Lesnar-Mark Hunt fight. Hunt, still ranked No. 5 at Heavyweight, battles No. 9 ranked Curtis Blaydes.
Rounding out the PPV portion are three more home country guys, who just happen to be rising stars, 8-0 Heavyweight Tai Tuivasa, 12-3 Welterweight Jake Matthews and No. 13 ranked Light Heavyweight 6-1 Tyson Pedro. As usual you can find the prelims on FS1 (four fights) and UFC Fight Pass (three fights).
The Scratch Sheets: The next UFC card takes place Feb. 18 featuring “The Cowboy” Donald Cerrone vs. Yancy Medeiros plus a top-ten Heavyweight battle with Derrick Lewis and Marcin Tybura. Boxing will have Welterweight Danny Garcia taking on slugger Brandon Rios at Mandalay Bay on Feb. 17.