CHICAGO – A belt may not have been on the line, but the drama was as high as any championship match in the last memory, such as Robert Whittaker (20-4 MMA, 11-2 UFC) took home a shared decision win over Yoel Romero (13-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC).
The midweight battle (Romero's lack of weight, which made it an uneven match) was the most important event in today's UFC 225 show at the United Center in Chicago.
After a pair of gloves to start the match, the middleweight campaign Whittaker was quick to kick the legs and then throw up high. Romero was stoic, held his hands high and was almost stationary when he absorbed battles. Whittaker fired a quick jab up in the middle but continued to cut his legs as well. The left hand began to run clean for Whittaker, and Romero started charging on some big blows that missed – but certainly knew his opponents' attention.
Whittaker jab and leadhake peered Romero's face and head and the low kicks were chopped at their base, too. Romero was patient when he picked his strokes, throwing all of them with power, of course, but struggling to land clean. Whittaker puts his right hand on some combinations in the later stages of the round, and he also dug into the body.
Romero showed some hope in his step to start others, shoot in his own low kick and a few big elbows as well. Clearly, taking another strategy in this frame, there was a more aggressive Romero in the opening minutes, but Whittaker adjusted well and began to launch big right hands who found his mark.
When the round was on, Romero's right eye began to close, and seemed to give a little more desperation with his efforts. Whittaker seemed energized by the visual damage and could open the arsenal and sneak into some high kicks landing as he moved around the cage. Romero was really not ready, landed a right hand who just missed the button and then came short on a takedown in the last second of the round.
Whittaker continued to chop his legs to start the third while Romero seemed to know that he had to quickly do things. As he started to swear, a big right hand whittaker blew and changed the game and sent his opponent to the tablecloth. Whittaker was clearly injured but struck, covered his knees and crept up to his feet. He could not escape immediately for safety, and Romero stopped tight and steered him to the cage and then let go of a blow. Shaking still shook, Whittaker could target some big elbows that landed clean but could not stop the attack. Romero drove into clinch and kept the action tight, and Whittaker had to defend the roofdown and try to counter the moments he felt safe.
Romero just missed a foot sweep past the halfway mark and Whittaker landed a high kick that seemed to stun the opponent. Romero still went through stroke and fired his big right hands. Whittaker was blooded and dazed but restored to the middle and landed another amazing kick. The measure was extremely intensive, and no one would give. Romero seemed to have a quick attention, but Whittaker knew he could not stay there, crept to his feet and worked the clamp until the clock.
Romero was clearly exhausted between rounds and he was again stoic to start the fourth. Whittaker fired in some high kicks that landed but simply could not put Romero down. Whittaker hugged his legs and stomped on his knee before Romero complained at a low blow and took a break as the audience was not happy to see.
Whittaker stomped back on the knee at restart while Romero Just lumbered through it and fired the big right hand. Whittaker landed jab after jab on his feet, but Romero just shook it and continued to search the big punch. Romero's mouth was open when he moved around the cage, but when he let go of his stroke, it was with evil intentions.
Whittaker added more elbows to his feet and he cut Romero under the confused right eye. The front kicked to the body also landed for Whittaker, but Romero would not stop, landing a right hand, which again had Whittaker wobbled and struggling to stay upright.
Whittaker kicked out more kicks to the legs to start the last round, but Romero could count a right hand over the top. Whittaker just snapped a nasty spinning backfist before he went back to work with his fast jab and snap kicking against his body and leg.
Romero continued to move forward, and a jump left hand landed clean and sent Whittaker crashes to the floor. He hurried up immediately and defended his head when Romero tried to break away at any available opening. Judge Dan Miragliotta looked closely, but Whittaker did enough to keep up the fight, trying to get up, but be careful when he did not portray to take another brainwashing stroke.
Whittaker crept back to his feet with just over two minutes left, and Romero got tight in his body. He pulled Whittaker back down and landed some bad knees in his back. Whittaker showed incredible resolve in survival, crept back to his feet and tried to shave his arms. Miragliotta asked for a reboot of 40 seconds left, and Whittaker tried his best to engage – but only from a safe distance. Romero forgot about a spinning kick in the last seconds, and both men celebrated at the last bell.
In the end, it was Whittaker like
"In the first round, I broke my hand and I do not know It's up to my elbow," said Whittaker after victory. "Yoel hits like a truck, and I had to try to survive and make the comeback. I could have seen it somehow because it was tight, but I hit him a lot and I thought I did enough to get three of them five rounds. "Did enough to win victory through split decision 47-48, 48 -47 and 48-47.
Up to minute UFC 225 results include:
- Robert Whittaker def. Yoel Romero via split decisions (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
- Colby Covington def. Rafael dos Anjos by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) – to win interim welterweight title
- Holly Holm def. Megan Anderson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
- Tai Tuivasa def. Other Arlovski by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Mike Jackson def. CM Punk via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
- Curtis Blaydes def. Alistair Overeem via TKO (elbows) – Round 3, 2:56
- Carla Esparza def. Claudia Gadelha via split decisions (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Mirsad Bektic def. Ricardo Lamas via split decisions (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Chris De La Rocha def. Rashad Coulter via TKO (punch) – Round 2, 3:53
- Anthony Smith def. Rashad Evans via knockout (knee) – Round 1, 0:53
- Sergio Pettis def. Joseph Benavidez via shared decisions (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
- Charles Oliveira def. Clay Guida by Submission (Guillotine Choke) – Round 1, 2:18
- Dan Ige def. Mike Santiago via TKO (Battle) – Round 1, 0:50
For full coverage of UFC 225, check out the UFC Events section of the site.