After the confusion, a UFC middleweight title fight will be the co-main event of UFC 213. It’s not just the regular title fight, though.
Only An Interim Middleweight Title
With the UFC women’s bantamweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko headlining the UFC’s July 8th event, the UFC announced that an interim middleweight title bout between Yoel Romero and Robert Whitaker will serve as the appetizer:
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) May 24, 2017
Originally, it was believed that Michael Bisping would be defending his middleweight title belt against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 213. But GSP asked for a later date and Bisping suffered an injury so the UFC decided to come up with yet another interim title fight. So while Romero and Whitaker can finally hoist a title belt, it’s only an interim one.
This is a bout between two knockout artists. 11 of Romero’s 12 wins have been by knockout. His last Octagon appearance was a third round stoppage of Chris Weidman at UFC 205. Whitaker, meanwhile, is coming off a sensational second round knockout of Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza at UFC on Fox 24. Whitaker has won seven fights in a row since losing to Stephen Thompson. Four of those victories, including the last two, have been by stoppage.
Odds and Preview
This is as close as it gets. Current odds have Romero as a slight -130 favorite against Whitaker, who is at even money. Both these fighters need just one punch to win the bout; that’s why the odds are this tight for this interim UFC middleweight title bout. Personally, I think Whitaker has more power and is the more explosive puncher here but he’s facing a veteran who is very skilled on the ground.
Romero’s advantage is his experience. He is a former world champion and Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling so that alone speaks greatly of his grappling prowess. Romero also averages 1.96 takedowns landed per 15 minutes, which is almost four times Robert Whitaker’s average. And if you ask me, he’s going to do more of that against Whitaker who is more dangerous on his feet than on the ground. Whitaker’s takedown defense is excellent though at 91%. He stuffed all of Rafael Natal’s four takedown attempts and yielded only one of three takedowns to Jacare Souza in his most recent bout.
We’re going with Yoel Romero here despite Robert Whitaker being the more dangerous puncher. Romero’s gonna be smart enough to take this fight to the ground and work from there. Striking with Whitaker is going to be hit or miss. We’re predicting Yoel Romero to win a tough, rugged decision.