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10th Jun 2018

Robert Whittaker’s chin steals the show in 10-8less victory over Yoel Romero

Fight of the year contender but where were the 10-8s?

Darragh Murphy

It takes a lot to put Robert Whittaker away.

Yoel Romero cemented his status as one of the greatest fighters of all time in the final 60 per cent of fights but it wasn’t enough to exact vengeance against UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker on Saturday night.

There was no title on the line in the main event of UFC 225 due to the fact that Romero failed to make the 185lbs weight limit a day earlier.

But pride was at stake and while Whittaker stormed into an early lead in a fight that he didn’t have to take, Romero came on strong from the third round in a fight of the year contender.

There was a marked difference in gameplans from the outset as the champion, who we later learned broke his right hand in the third round, was persistent with volume and mixing up strikes while Romero conserved energy for explosive bursts of devastating flurries.

Interestingly, the first takedown attempt from Romero, an Olympic silver medallist in freestyle wrestling, didn’t occur until late in the second round after his right eye began to swell shut from to a jab courtesy of the Aussie.

The third round exploded into life and may well go down as the round of the year as Romero threw caution to the wind and landed heavy on Whittaker’s granite chin, earning the Cuban veteran a 10-8 round in the eyes of some fans but none of the judges.

An accidental kick to the groin gave Romero some much-needed recovery time as he looked visibly spent following his exertion in the middle round but the final minute of the penultimate frame saw Whittaker struggle to get his feet under him as he wobbled back to the stool for the final time.

‘The Soldier of God’ appeared to have the opportunity to finish the fight in the final frame but he either thought he was ahead on the scorecards or simply didn’t have the energy to pour it on in another round which, under the current rules, could have constituted a 10-8.

The decision was split and Whittaker’s eight-fight win streak continued but it was far from conclusive because while Romero may have come in 0.2lbs heavy, the commission reportedly pulled him from his weight cut and the new regulations ought to have seen him claim at least one 10-8 round, which would have made the contest a draw.

It’s just another night in the bonkers world of mixed martial arts.