Yoel Romero Wrecks Luke Rockhold In The Third Round At UFC 221

Jan 10 2018 Los Angeles CA USA General overall view of Nike basketballs prior to an NCAA basketball game between the Colorado Buffaloes and the Southern California Trojans at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 10 2018 Los Angeles CA USA General overall view of Nike basketballs prior to an NCAA basketball game between the Colorado Buffaloes and the Southern California Trojans at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Rockhold wasn't short on confidence heading into his UFC 221 bout with Yoel Romero, but the former middleweight champ was quick to compliment the latter, following his KO win.

Already ranked as the division's number-one contender, Romero's victory is likely to see him installed as the next challenger for the UFC middleweight title, held by Australian Robert Whittaker, who recorded a unanimous decision victory over the Cuban in July a year ago.

A fight between Whittaker and Romero now looks the logical next step as he looks to finally get his hands on the belt. Romero may have earned a date Whittaker, the man who defeated him to claim the title back in July.

Australians were victorious in the first three fights on the main card, as Tai Tuivasa, Jake Matthews and Tyson Pedro picked up wins. Remaining on his feet, Rockhold pushed Romero away with a left jab to the nose before following up with a straight left to the midsection as the clock hit the 90-second mark.

Rockhold was originally scheduled to challenge for Robert Whittaker's undisputed middleweight title. Rockhold has the more well-rounded game, but Romero has the more risky power. He has no history of missing weight, other than last weekend.

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If Romero and Whittaker do indeed fight again, it'll be a rematch of their 2017 bout at UFC 213. But injuries are part of the sport and Whittaker got injured. If this was the case, it would delay when Romero's next fight would be. It's hard to believe such an explosive, powerful, and fast athlete is 40 years old. However, Romero had an extra two hours of weight cutting and will have to fight less than 24 hours later.

Why they should fight: Tuivasa provided more evidence he could be a key player in the future of the UFC heavyweight division when he picked up another brutal first-round TKO win, this time against Cyril Asker.

"Rockhold is a very good athlete and an wonderful fighter", Romero said after the fight. But this is a sport, and part of the sport is making weight. The problem is no one else stands out as the next contender in line.

"It seems to make intuitive sense - the No.1 and No.2 competing", UFC senior vice president David Shaw said. "So there's a bit of time to figure out what's going to happen in the weight division".

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