The combat world wept when Robert Whittaker had to back out of his fight with Luke Rockhold, especially since it was going to set the middleweight division right for the first time in roughly two years. However, the tears quickly dried when we learned we were going to get Yoel Romero fighting Rockhold at UFC 221 instead. It’s a fight that we’ve somehow never got, but now here it is right in front of us. Luke Rockhold is fine with the change in opponent as well, which he believes is an easier fight than he was in before hand.
“It’s not an ideal situation, of course. I’m going across the world to fight a guy that I could fight down the street. I wanted to fight [Robert] Whittaker. It’s a fight I’ve been seeking for a long time and I thought it was a good time to make it happen, but obviously he’s got some health issues. 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. Yoel [Romero] 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.”
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) January 15, 2018
“I think Yoel has more holes to expose in his game. Whittaker’s tighter. He’s harder to get to, whereas Yoel will kinda leave himself open. Very similar fights, but I like this match-up. [Romero]’s body is suspect. 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. He’s got limitations, he’s got holes, so I’m going to pick him apart and I’m going to push his body to that breaking point. I know he’s going to come forward, I know he’s dangerous, I know he’s not going to quit, but I know his body will give out, and I’m going to push him to that level.” — Luke Rockhold on The MMA Hour.
Luke Rockhold was on a five-fight win streak before suffering his upset at the hands of Michael Bisping, which was the catalyst to the UFC middleweight divisions’ log jam. He rebounded back against former WSOF double champ David Branch in September of last year and now he’s looking to win back his title. Yoel Romero was in a similar position after being derailed from his eight-fight win streak by Robert Whittaker. The winner of Rockhold and Romero’s fight is slated to unify the middleweight titles with Whittaker.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/16/2018.