UFC 221 plays host to a big-time Middleweight showdown. Originally supposed to be a battle between the former UFC champion, Luke Rockhold and current undisputed champion, Robert Whittaker has turned into an interim title clash now between Rockhold and Yoel Romero. One great fight goes to another.
The title fight is taking place next week on February 10th in Perth, Australia. Before fight week, Rockhold spoke with MMAJunkie about his opponent, Romero:
“No one’s putting away Romero other than me and Whittaker, so that’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to put him away.
I’m going to show him what’s up, and then I’m going to take on Whittaker. I know Yoel believes in himself, I know he is almost overconfident at times. I think he doesn’t really understand where the dangers are I pose to him. I know what he is and what he’s capable of, but I’m going to give this guy more than he can handle. I’m going to shut him down. I’m willing to go deeper than he’ll ever go. Some people act the part. Some people talk the part. But to be the part, to go there and to get into those moments, I’ve never been outdone. I’m willing to go deeper and darker than any of these motherf*ckers. Yoel can look it, and he can act it, but I’ll bring it out of him, and I’ll push this thing to a different world that he’s not ready for.
I don’t know if Yoel thinks he can grapple with me. He’ll be in for a surprise if he really wants to take it there. So whether he wants to strike, and he thinks he’s OK there, I’m going to make him pay there, and I think he falls back to his instincts, and he tries to wrestle. I’m going to make him pay for the wrestling. I’m going to hit scrambles. I’m going to be on top. I’m going to get in positions where he’s never felt. Mark my words: I’ve done it. I’ll never be outdone. I’m a fighter. I’ve been here, and I’ve proven that over and over and over, and I’m going to go prove it again.”
Before getting the call to fill in for the injured champion, Whittaker, Yoel Romero was preparing to face David Branch at UFC on Fox 28. Romero is coming off the first loss of his UFC career which was to Whittaker. Now he’ll be getting a shot to potentially rematch the man that beat him if he can defeat Rockhold first.
Speaking of Branch, he was Rockhold’s last opponent. The two met in September and Rockhold came out on top by way of second-round submission via strikes. This was the former champion’s first fight since losing the title to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in the Summer of 2016.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/31/2018.