Looks like Luke Rockhold will meet Yoel Romero at UFC 221.
UFC Middleweight Champion Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker made a post on Instagram, in which he announced he would have to withdrawal from his inaugural title defense against Former Champion Luke Rockhold which was set to take place at UFC 221 Perth, Australia, the champion’s home country.
Monday on The MMA Hour, Luke Rockhold appeared to discuss what’s next. He had nothing negative to say about Whittaker:
“I wish him the best and I know Whittaker’s not a man to run away from anything. I respect that kid and I wish him the best. I hope it’s not too serious.”
Now it appears top contender Yoel Romero will step up to fight Rockhold on short notice. Rockhold says he is game to fight the terrifying Cuban, even after preparing for Whittaker.
“Yoel was the option right off the bat, and I’m ready to fight as long as the money’s right, the belt’s on the line. Yoel would’ve happened now or later, one or the other, so it doesn’t matter to me. I’m sure I would’ve fought him after Whittaker, so either order, it doesn’t matter the order. Yoel first, it’s a very similar fight. Very explosive, athletic guys, so just contain them.”
Rockhold believes that Romero will actually be an easier fight, despite the fact that he has only lost once in the past five years.
“I think Yoel has more holes to expose in his game,” Rockhold added. “I think Whittaker’s tighter. I think he’s harder to get to, whereas Yoel will kinda leave himself open. So, very similar fights, but I like this matchup.”
Romero has a patently uncontrollable and explosive style. He was an Olympic Silver medalist in wrestling, and brings that strong mindset into the cage. One weakness has been shown to be his endurance. Romero is heavily muscled and more prone to fatigue. Rockhold expects to exploit this.
“I think Yoel, his body is suspect,” Rockhold said. “I think his body can only go so — the way he fights, I think he can only push so hard for so long. Mentally, I think he has it. I mean, he has the will to win even when he’s tired. It’s about making his body quit, and that’s what I plan to do.”
Ultimately, Luke Rockhold is still trying to cement himself as the best in the world, and he believes that a win over Yoel Romero is a convincing case:
“It is what it is at this point,” Rockhold said. “I think beating Yoel will speak for itself. I think it’ll speak to who the real champion is. Whittaker is a stud and I believe in the kid, but he couldn’t put Yoel away. So if I go out there and I put Yoel away, I think it speaks volumes, so I’m set to do what I think I can do.”